News in Brief 20 January 2017 (AM) – Geneva

45,000 people “have fled the Gambia” amid election uncertainty

At least 45,000 people have fled the Gambia amid uncertainty about who is to lead the country after former President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to step down.

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UNHCR: refugees face police violence, push-backs in Balkans

Concern is growing for asylum-seekers facing freezing conditions in the Balkans amid reports that they are still facing police violence and expulsion from European Union Member States.

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A photographer's search for "normalcy" in refugees’ lives

“A lot of photographers travel to places and they want to show the differences between us” and the people caught in conflict.

That’s according to Giles Duley, a British photographer who instead aims to show our similarities.

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Rising tensions follow restrictions on refugees at Balkan borders

Tensions are rising amongst migrants and refugees at the main entry point into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from Greece, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

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With regional simulation, UN agency boosts readiness for foot and mouth disease in Balkans

The United Nations agricultural agency has joined the European Union in helping to boost Balkan countries’ preparations for any possible foot-and-mouth disease outbreak by running simulations of contingency plans for rapid responses, according to a press release issued today.

Pristina, Belgrade continue to ‘narrow remaining differences,’ says senior UN official

Despite a slower pace recently on implanting the aims of the European Union-led political dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today the two sides have “narrowed their remaining differences,” and that he hopes once elections are complete in Kosovo, the dialogue will resume without delay.

Landslides, disease pose threats in wake of epic flooding in Balkans – UN

United Nations humanitarian agencies today raised concerns about landslides and possible water-borne diseases from the worst flooding in Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in more than a century, which may have disturbed minefields from the Bosnian war.

Environmental 'hot spots' in Balkans cleaned up, UN agency says

The United Nations environmental agency is set to hand over its ecological clean-up programme in the Balkans to the Serbian Government after making progress in eliminating the health risks to tens of thousands of people living in and around four seriously polluted "hot spots."

UN anti-drug agency steps up fight against narcotics trafficking in Balkans

United Nations officials and police chiefs from seven Balkan countries have taken a further step to enhance intelligence-based policing in the battle against illegal narcotics trafficking through the region.

Officials stress democratic rules in upcoming elections in Balkans - UN mission

Senior international officials dealing with southeastern Europe have called for governments, politicians and political parties to respect democratic rules of conduct in the region's elections slated for later this year, according to the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).