News in Brief 31 January (PM)

Thousands trapped in Yemeni coastal town in need of protection

Up to 30,000 Yemeni civilians are trapped in one coastal town in need of aid supplies and protection, according to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the country.

Jamie McGoldrick said on Tuesday he was extremely concerned for the "safety and well-being" of civilians in the Dhubab and Al Mokha districts of the Taizz Governorate, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden.

He said the military operations involving Houthi rebels and Government forces had forced residents to flee the coastal area.

Intensifying conflict in Yemen since 2015 has left around 19 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

Here's UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

"In Mokha an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people, almost one third of the population, are trapped in the town and require immediate protection and relief assistance. Repeated airstrikes, shelling and sniper attacks in and around the town of Al Mokha have killed and injured scores of civilians and have ground most services to a halt, including the main market and the water supply system."

Humanitarian appeal for Ukraine, only one per cent funded

A major humanitarian appeal for Ukraine launched last month has only secured one per cent of its target funding, the UN announced on Tuesday.

The UN Humanitarian Affairs office, OCHA, said that they had hoped to raise US$214 million from donors through their main 2017 appeal.

Conflict between the Ukrainian Government and separatist rebels close to the Russian border has led to the deaths of nearly 10,000 people, more than 2,000 of them civilians, since April 2014.

Here's Stephane Dujarric again.

"Also on Ukraine, the Humanitarian Coordinator and the aid community there today said they are gravely concerned by the drastic deterioration of the security situation in the country's east and its impact on humanitarian work. The Humanitarian Coordinator, Neal Walker, said that an immediate cessation of hostilities is needed to prevent further loss of lives and to allow for repair teams to restore critical basic services, including water and heat, to people living in temperatures of ten below zero."

New Water Information Network System launched by UNESCO

A new online tool was launched by the UN on Tuesday which allows users to access and generate information about water flows around the world.

The UN Educational and Scientific Organization, UNESCO, had developed the so-called Water Information Network System as part of its International Hydrological Programme.

The system continuously updates with fresh data, allowing users to create tailor-made maps incorporating information about arid zones, rainfall, water basins and irrigation networks.

Drawing on data from multiple partner organizations, it will bring together "as much validated information concerning the water cycle as possible," said UNESCO.

It will also feature key UNESCO programmes involving water resources, such as World Heritage and Biosphere Reserves sites.

Source: United Nations Radio