News in Brief 04 April 2017 (PM)

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A wide view of the Security Council in session. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

UN chief “deeply disturbed” by reports of chemical weapons use in Syria

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said he is “deeply disturbed” by reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons in an airstrike in Idlib, Syria, on Tuesday.

At least 58 people are reported to have died and dozens more were injured in several attacks around rebel-held Khan Shaykhun, north-west Syria.

“The United Nations is not currently in a position to independently verify these reports” said the UN chief, adding that the chemical weapons watchdog, the  OPCW, had already established a Fact-Finding Mission to confirm if chemical weapons had been used.

The Security Council is due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the attack.

Here’s UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura:

“What happened this morning is horrific, and we have been asking – and the UN is going to ask – for clear identification of responsibility and accountability.”

UN partner agency the chemical weapons watchdog, OPCW, has already begun an investigation into the airborne attack, which was followed up with a reported rocket attack on a hospital where some of the injured were being treated.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, an international conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region has got underway, with UN relief chief Stephen O’Brien insisting that humanitarians would continue to deliver life-saving aid by all possible means.

Here’s UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

“Mr. O’Brien said that humanitarian workers cannot stop the ongoing indiscriminate attacks, medieval barbaric sieges and forced displacements, but will continue to provide a lifeline to millions of people in need, including through regular programmes, cross-line, cross-border and air operations.”

“Resurgence” of piracy off Somali coast must be addressed: UNODC

There’s been a “resurgence” of piracy after a five-year lull, off the coast of Somalia, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The agency said that there had been at least three attacks on commercial vessels since 13 March.

Crew members from two of the ships have been released but news reports say at least 11 are still being held hostage from the cargo ship Al Kaushar.

UNODC chief Yuri Fedotov said it continued to support bringing those suspected of piracy to trial, as well as Somalia’s maritime law enforcement agencies.

Here’s Stéphane Dujarric again.

“In the wake of three recent attacks, the head of UNODC, Yury Fedotov, called on the international community to be vigilant, work in close partnership, and hold the pirates accountable. Large parts of the Somali coast remain beyond the reach of law enforcement authorities. The UN stressed that ships should continue to follow the advice of navies and the International Maritime Organization. “

Tensions continue between rival militias in CAR

Tensions are continuing between rival militias in Mbomou prefecture in the south of the Central African Republic (CAR), said the UN Mission in the country, MINUSCA.

Mission staff observed a large presence of suspected anti-Balaka fighters and the movement of rival UPC militia close by, while UPC are continuing to launch attacks in and around the city of Bakouma.

MINUSCA has also reported violence in Haute-Mbomou prefecture in the country’s south-east by UPC elements against a number of villages.

The Mission condemns the violence perpetuated by armed groups, and reiterated its commitment to protect civilians and institutions, in an effort to bring lasting peace to CAR.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3’06″

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