News in Brief 23 June 2017 (AM)

Team of international experts to investigate rights abuses in Kasais, DRC

The UN Human Rights Council has set up an investigative team to examine allegations of gross violations and abuses in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The move was welcomed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who said it sent a "strong message" to perpetrators that the international community was serious about bringing them to justice.

The council resolution calls on Zeid to appoint a team to examine alleged rights violations of international humanitarian law in the Kasais.

Since last year, around 1.3 million people have been internally displaced by violence, and around 30,000 have fled into neighbouring Angola.

The resolution calls on Zeid to provide an oral update next March, followed by a comprehensive report in a year's time.

Here's United States Counsellor Jason Mack speaking at the Human Rights Council in Geneva:

"In recognition of the concerning deterioration of the human rights situation in the DRC, the United States hoped that today's resolution would be even stronger, stating clearly the need for accountability for all parties. Still, we are pleased that all council members have been able to reach a consensus on the resolution at hand."

Soil pollution takes centre stage at FAO meeting

Man-made soil pollution took centre stage at the Food and Agricultural Organization on Friday, at the fifth Global Soil Partnership Assembly (GSP).

Delegates gathered to discuss the increasing problems associated with pollution in soil, which include excess nitrogen, and trace metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury.

Ronald Vargas, FAO soils officer and Secretary of the GSP, said that because soil pollution came in "so many forms" it was vital to intensify global collaboration to build up a body of reliable scientific evidence.

The President of the International Union of Soil Sciences, Rattan Lal, added that "combating soil pollution and pursuing sustainable soil management" was essential for addressing climate change.

Soil pollution has led to a reduction in crop productivity, and when pollutants enter the food chain it poses a risk to food security, water resources, the rural economy and human health.

"No room for complacency" as famine conditions ease in South Sudan: UNICEF

The easing of famine conditions in South Sudan should not distract from the fact that severe food insecurity continues to put the lives of millions of children at risk there, together with north-east Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen.

That's the warning on Friday from the UN Children's Fund's Director for Emergency Programmes, Manuel Fontaine.

The UNICEF official said that in all four countries, "the situation continues to be of the highest concern and the number of children at imminent risk of death remains alarming".

He added that while famine had been reversed in South Sudan, where 3.5 million have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, "the lives of millions of children still hang by a thread."

"We must continue to scale-up our response, and insist on unconditional humanitarian access," he added.

Source: United Nations Radio