News in Brief 5 January 2017 (PM)

5 January 2017

Observers let go from UN Mission in Colombia

Three observers have been let go from the UN Mission in Colombia following their participation in a celebration organized by the largest rebel group in the country, FARC.

Their direct supervisor was also separated from service.

The UN mission is monitoring and verifying a ceasefire signed in September between the Colombian Government and FARC which ended more than five decades of conflict in the South American country.

Several media outlets have published a video showing UN observers dancing at a FARC location point on New Year’s Eve.

In a statement, the UN Mission reiterated its determination to verify in full impartiality the parties' commitments towards the cease-fire, the cessation of hostilities and the laying down of arms.

Canada contribution a “lifeline of hope” for Syrian refugees in Lebanon

A US$9.8 million contribution from Canada to the World Food Programme (WFP) will benefit more than 310,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon who are entirely dependant on humanitarian support.

WFP Lebanon Deputy Country Director Paul Skoczylas said the donation represents “a lifeline of hope” for refugees during the harsh winter months.

More than 90 per cent of Syrian refugees in Lebanon have problems accessing sufficient food, according to the UN agency.

Since they cannot afford to purchase items, WFP provides the refugees with assistance through electronic cards which can be used in nearly 500 shops across the country.

The Canadian funding was transferred onto the refugees’ cards on Thursday.

Experts support US school district’s ban against “offensive” slavery textbook

Human rights experts are backing a ban by a United States school district against an “offensive” textbook on slavery.

The Norwalk School District in Connecticut has removed the book ‘The Connecticut Adventure’ from its classrooms due to its inaccurate, simplistic and offensive depiction of slavery

The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent said officials scrapped the book which said slaves in the state were often treated like family members, and were “taught to be Christian” and sometimes how to read and write.

Students of history need to know that enslaved people were never categorized as “family,” said Ricardo Sunga, who heads the panel, which was established by the UN Human Rights Council to study racial discrimination worldwide.

He said such “deeply offensive texts” should be replaced with accurate depictions of history.

The Working Group said the example set by the Norwalk chool district should be followed across the US and other countries.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2’42”


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