News in Brief 1 December 2017 – Geneva (AM)

$22.5 billion needed to help 91 million people in 2018: UN relief chief

A record level of aid funding � more than $22.5 billion � is needed to deliver lifesaving assistance around the world in 2018, the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator said on Friday.

Announcing the Global Humanitarian Appeal, Mark Lowcock said that an estimated 136 million people face urgent needs because of protracted conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics and displacement.

"Were we better financed we would save more lives. But we would also protect more futuresIt costs us about Pound 230 a year to provide the lifesaving comprehensive assistance that we are talking about through these response plans, that's 77 cents a day. That's one of the cheapest investments you can make in the safety of humanity for the future, so we are hoping that on the basis of the quality of the plans we will be able to reach higher levels of funding than we have both said we have achieved for this year."

In Yemen, a child dies every 10 minutes, the UN official said, adding that the country is likely to remain the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Twenty million of the country's 25 million people are in need of assistance, and seven to eight million "right on the brink of famine", Mr Lowcock added.

He repeated his call for the Saudi-led coalition to continue unwinding its blockade � put in place after a rocket attack by Houthi fighters three weeks ago � warning of a humanitarian crisis the like of which the world "has not seen in decades" if it is not done.

Acknowledging that humanitarian aid on its own could not solve chronic instability, the UN aid chief said it was a personal priority to work with governments on development and peacebuilding to address the root causes of their problems.

Bid to stop traffickers' "slave markets" hailed by UN migration agency

An international bid to stop migrants being bought and sold as slaves in Libya has been welcomed by the UN.

Migration agency IOM made the announcement on Friday after the African Union, EU Member States and others signed an agreement in Abidjan, CAte d'Ivoire, to tackle gangs of traffickers who target people trying to reach Europe from North Africa.

The development follows media reports showing video footage of an apparent slave auction outside Libya's capital Tripoli.

Here's IOM spokesperson Leonard Doyle:

"On this issue of slave markets we know as much as we know, we reported it to you back in April. We have evidence, we have reports from migrants who were returning to Niger who described in great detail what was happening to them.now this is happening outside government control by criminal gangs and the determination and intent of the agreement from Abidjan is also to break up the trafficking network, and this is a more difficult prospect because obviously it is illegal and it's a hugely lucrative racket."

Today, IOM estimates that there may be up to one million migrants in Libya.

Many have been travelling to and from the country in search of work for generations and do not face mistreatment.

Around 15,000 people are being held in government detention centres though, and IOM says that thanks to the Abidjan accord, it will be able to send thousands home by Christmas.

The majority of migrants asking to leave Libya have come from Nigeria, followed by Guinea the Gambia Mali and Senegal.

The agency has warned however that many more migrants are believed to be being held hostage by smugglers who abuse and torture them in a bid to extort money from their families.

School attack in Nigeria's Borno state condemned

A deadly suicide bomb attack on a primary school in Nigeria which claimed the lives of two children and injured two more has been condemned by the UN.

UN Children's fund UNICEF said on Friday that the targeting of youngsters in Kuaya Kusar, Borno State was the first such incident in north-east Nigeria in more than two years.

Extremists Boko Haram are believed to have been behind the incident on Thursday, along with many other attacks this year.

Typically, they involve youngsters who have been brainwashed into blowing themselves up, UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac told journalists:

"These children who are manipulated in the worst cruel possible way, and of course they are all victims, they are not perpetrators. And of course this practice does not only destroy their lives, but creates further suspicion and fear of the children who have been released and escaped from Boko Haram areas."

The UNICEF spokesperson said that since 2014, around 1,500 schools have been targeted by armed groups in north-east Nigeria.

These have caused at least 1,280 deaths among schoolchildren and their teachers.

Source: United Nations Radio