News in Brief 13 November 2017 (AM)

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

UN teams rushing to help victims of Iran-Iraq earthquake

United Nations teams are rushing to assist local authorities in Iraq in the wake of a deadly earthquake which hit the country and neighbouring Iran.

The 7.3-magnitude quake struck the border region between the two countries on Sunday evening, killing nearly 400 people and injuring thousands more, according to media reports.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has expressed his sadness over the loss of life and damage.

Meanwhile, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande reported that an assessment team arrived in Darbandikhan, one of the worst-impacted areas, on Monday.

“We’ve also received a request from the Government to dispatch a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team from Geneva. This is a highly specialised team that will help to assess conditions and coordinate the response,” she said in a statement.

Ms Grande added that the World Health Organization (WHO) has also dispatched an Immediate Response Team and two ambulances to the primary hospital in the area, along with trauma and surgical kits.

South Sudan: UN official welcomes presidential decree on aid access

The UN’s top humanitarian official in South Sudan has welcomed a presidential decree ordering free, unimpeded and unhindered movement of aid organizations in the country.

“Ensuring unhindered humanitarian access is essential to save lives,” Alain Noudéhou said in a statement issued on Monday, just days after President Salva Kiir Mayardit issued the order.

It comes at a time when food insecurity “continues to deteriorate and humanitarian organizations face pressure to expand their response,” he added.

Mr Noudéhou expressed hope that the decree will help in reducing what he described as “the many constraints faced by humanitarian partners that delay or prevent the provision of urgently needed help and which too often place humanitarian staff at risk.”

Papal gift provides farming kits for South Sudan families: FAO

A gift from Pope Francis to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will help approximately 5,000 hungry families in South Sudan to make ends meet, the UN agency said on Monday.

The families, located in Yei, in Central Equatoria state, have received vegetable-growing kits and agricultural hand tools courtesy of the Pope’s €25,000 donation to the UN agency, made in July.

The kits are being provided in areas where farming and other livelihoods have been wiped out due to conflict.

FAO estimates 145,000 people in Central Equatoria are facing “emergency levels of food insecurity,” which it describes as one step below famine.

Overall, nearly five million people in South Sudan are experiencing severe food insecurity, according to the agency, which projects that the situation will deteriorate at the start of the coming year.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3’06”