This is the news in brief from the United Nations.
Dozens of migrants dead and missing, adds to mounting toll off Spanish coast
A group of migrant boats stranded at sea, was rescued off the Spanish coast on Thursday, and at least 25 people are believed to be dead or missing, including a pregnant woman, the UN Refugee Agency, UNCHR, has reported.
Briefing reporters in Geneva on Friday, spokesperson, Elizabeth Throssell, said that on one of the six vessels found adrift in the Straits of Gibraltar, in the western Mediterranean Sea, 33 people had been rescued, but 12 had died and a further 12 were missing.
On another of the boats, 57 people had been on board, including one that had already died by the time of the rescue. Ms. Throssell said that among the survivors was a mother and her two-year-old child who was evacuated by helicopter, after the girl was found to be suffering from hypothermia.
Ms. Throssell added that many of the survivors were being held at detention centres at the Port of Almeria in Spain.
“Our implementing partner is there to provide the people with information and support and to help any potential protection and other needs and of course to promote access to the asylum process for those who may need it”.
Drought threatens millions in northeast Syria along with continued fighting
The UN’s humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, said on Friday that it was very concerned by a continuing drought across northeast Syria, which combined with years of brutal war, “could severely impact millions”.
While the food security situation has improved in many parts of Syria in the past year, some 5.5 million people are still food insecure and need assistance.
More than 90 percent of households spend half or more of their monthly income on food, and with so many buildings damaged and infrastructure in ruins, drought is having a devastating effect on malnourished families who can’t find enough to eat, or sufficient shelter during the winter months.
More details from UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric:
“This year has been the lowest wheat and barley production in Syria since 1989.
The UN and its humanitarian partners are providing assistance to drought-affected communities in the northeast, including seeds for winter crops, agricultural support mechanisms and technical training.”
South Sudan Mission ‘strongly condemns’ assault and detention of ceasefire monitors
An attack on a ceasefire monitoring and transitional security team set up by the African regional body IGAD to help keep the latest South Sudan peace deal on track, has been condemned by the UN Mission in the world’s youngest country, UNMISS.
UNMISS said that four members of the team were assaulted by government forces on 18 December, in the Luri area of Central Equatoria State.
Here’s UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric again:
“UNMISS notes that the monitoring and verification team members and their support personnel were merely discharging their mandate in support of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. The Mission urges the immediate commencement of investigations in order for the perpetrators to be held to account. The Mission also urges the Parties to the Revitalized Agreement to adhere to the commitments and to ensure that all their forces are aware of and comply with the tenets of the Agreement.”
Matt Wells, UN News.