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Mosul families flee ongoing "heavy bombing and fighting": UN

Conditions in Mosul are "desperate and worsening" according to those fleeing the besieged Iraqi city.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said on Friday that families have reported heavy bombing and fighting in the west of the city, where ISIL fighters are resisting national troops.

Some civilians have managed to escape amid the violence, according to UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic:

"They said we left as fighting was going on over our heads, shelling, sniper fire and so on. We managed to escape unseen using the holes in the walls next door that had been created throughout our neighbourhood. Fleeing was very hard, my wife carried our eight- month-old daughter and I carried my other daughter. It was terrible; we saw many dead bodies along the way. At one point my wife fainted and even now my children are having nightmares, waking up crying."

UNHCR has just opened its twelfth camp for displaced people outside Mosul but it says that waning funding support threatens its ability to help them.

According to the Iraqi government, more than 630,000 civilians have fled the northern city since the military campaign to take it back from ISIL began last October.

400,000 could flee attack on key Yemen port, warns IOM

At least 400,000 people could flee the key Yemeni port city of Hodeida in the event of a new attack, the UN said on Tuesday.

The warning from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) comes amid ongoing fighting between government forces and Houthi separatists in the Arabian peninsula country.

The already impoverished country, which imports almost all of its food, medicines and fuel, has been devastated by the more than two-year conflict.

IOM said in a statement that "unending ground fighting and air strikes" have prevented humanitarian agencies from reaching the most vulnerable, among the more than two million displaced.

In Sana'a Governorate further inland, IOM says that there is limited access to water, food and healthcare.

A new cholera outbreak has also been reported in the capital Sana'a, it says.

According to the UN, 12 million people face famine in Yemen and 2.1 million children are acutely malnourished.

Call to El Salvador to protect LGBTI community in El Salvador

The murder of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in El Salvador should be addressed by the authorities urgently, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Friday.

At least seven transgender people have been killed in the Central American state since the beginning of the year, according to the agency.

Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told journalists in Geneva that one prominent rights defender, Karla Avelar, had faced violence and intimidation for decades, and needed protection:

"She survived two attempts on her life, in 1992 and 1997, when she was shot multiple times and seriously wounded. We urge the Government of El Salvador to take urgent measures to ensure the protection of Ms. Avelar and other LGBTI activists and individuals who are under threat."

Ms Shamdasani said that more than 50 per cent of all transgender women surveyed by El Salvador's ombudsman's office last year said they had received death threats.

The government should respond by conducting thorough investigations into hate crimes, the UN Human Rights Office said in a statement.

Source: United Nations Radio

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