News in Brief 05 October 2017 (PM)

Security Council: Mali mission chief calls for redoubling of peace efforts

Parties to the peace agreement in Mali are being asked to redouble their efforts to achieve peace in the North-West African country.

The appeal was made by Mahamat Saleh Annadif, head of the UN mission there, MINUSMA, who briefed the Security Council in New York on Thursday.

The Malian government and armed groups signed the peace deal in 2015.

But the UN official told ambassadors that a recent debate on the revision of the Constitution, as well as clashes between two signatories of the agreement, have almost derailed its implementation.

Stephane Dujarric is the UN spokesperson.

"While these crises have been averted, Mr Annadif called on all parties to redouble their efforts to re-establish confidence, commit to reforms and provide peace dividends to the population. Mr Annadif warned that the UN Mission is confronted with major challenges related to the activities of extremist and terrorist groups, as well as criminal networks. These are the main obstacles to the return of peace, he said. He added that the almost daily loss of peacekeepers is becoming unbearable. He reiterated the need for funding to invest in protection against indirect attacks, as well as in the improvement of surveillance, detection, and early warning alarm systems."

1 in 2 Somalis living in poverty: World Bank

Half of all Somalis are living in poverty, according to a World Bank study published Thursday that's been described as the "first comprehensive snapshot" of welfare conditions in the country.

Somalia continues to recover from its worst drought in decades, forcing nearly seven million people to rely on humanitarian assistance during the first half of this year.

The report, which surveys almost five million people, looks at conditions facing vulnerable people in the country and the increasing levels of hardship they are facing.

It reveals that 1 in 5 Somali households receive money transfers and "depend heavily" on them.

Households consisting of people who have been displaced are "mostly excluded" from these benefits, the report stated.

A second study planned for later this year will also focus on this essentially nomadic population.

Rights experts identify actions to curb harmful practices related to witchcraft

More than 100 experts from the UN and across the world have identified concrete steps to end human rights violations caused by what they have described as "a disturbing diversity of harmful practices" related to witchcraft.

The measures include strengthening research and data collection, reviewing relevant laws, collaborating with and monitoring the work of traditional healers, and prohibiting newspaper advertising for witchcraft practitioners.

They are the outcome of a workshop held this week in Geneva featuring participants from countries such as the United Kingdom, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Australia, India and Papua New Guinea.

Presenters provided examples of the impact of witchcraft on human rights, while victims of harmful practices also shared their stories.

UN Independent Expert on the human rights of persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, one of the main organizers, said the event proposed solutions to preventing and addressing rights violations such as killings, ritual attacks, mutilations and human sacrifice.

Source: United Nations Radio