News in Brief 15 December 2017 (PM)

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A Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh with her son and granddaughter, accompanied by a volunteer health worker. Photo: UNICEF/Roger LeMoyne

Rohingya refugees more vulnerable as cooler temperatures arrive: UNHCR

Cooler temperatures and an increasingly risky environment are threatening the well-being of more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees who've crossed the Bangladesh border from Myanmar, said the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Friday.

UNHCR is due to distribute the first of almost 200,000 items of clothing in the next few days, to help those who have recently arrived prepare for colder weather in the weeks ahead.

Children, who make up around 55 per cent of the refugee population are particularly vulnerable.

The stateless Rohingya began pouring across the border after coming under attack from Myanmar forces in late August, with the UN human rights chief describing their treatment as a "textbook" example of ethnic cleansing.

More details from UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

"UNHCR has been working to bolster the quality of shelters in the camps by supplying higher quality materials, as well as expanding technical support for construction and drainage. At present, a steady but smaller number of refugees continue to cross from Myanmar, some 100 a day."

Life-threatening power shortages in Gaza Strip continue, despite accord

Life-threatening power shortages due to faulty lines and lack of fuel are continuing across the Gaza Strip despite a recent reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas militants.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2006, and it was hoped a new agreement with Fatah in October would help bring an end to chronic power shortages which have crippled vital health, water and sanitation services.

Most of Gaza's 2 million residents have had four hours or less of electricity per day over the past week, said Stéphane Dujarric, briefing journalists at UN Headquarters on Friday.

"Last week, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator released $2.2 million from the Occupied Palestinian Territory's Humanitarian Fund to cover urgent needs in emergency energy backup, medical supplies and food assistance. No significant change in the humanitarian situation has been noted since the Palestinian reconciliation accord signed in October, which the Secretary-General had hoped would lead to alleviating the humanitarian crisis."

Innovative alliance to give a voice to refugees in Europe: UNHCR

An innovative new coalition to advocate on behalf of refugees in Europe has just been launched.

Known as the "Refugee Coalition for Europe", members met in Italy, organized by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in partnership with the local government of Milan and the NGO advisory group, Independent Diplomat.

The Coalition serves as a platform for decision makers to consider refugees' needs and strengthen their rights when it comes to policymaking.

Some 15 refugee representatives currently living in eight different European countries shared their opinions on the protection and integration needs of refugees on the continent.

Pascale Moreau, UNHCR Director of the Bureau for Europe, stressed the crucial role envisaged for the coalition.

"This initiative will help increase refugees' active participation" in decisions that affect their entire futures, he said.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'46"

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