News in Brief 13 July 2016 (AM)

Old Town of Djenné (Mali). Photo: UNESCO/F. Bandarin
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  • Iconic Mali towns join “most-at-risk” list

    In Mali, the iconic Old Towns of Djenné have been added to the list of world heritage sites in danger, UNESCO said Wednesday.

    The UN cultural agency said that the historic settlements, which date back to 250 BC, are at risk from ongoing insecurity in the sub-Saharan country.

    The decision was taken by the World Heritage Committee, now meeting in Istanbul.

    In total, only 49 places in the world feature on the “most-at-risk” list, which includes monuments, national parks and archaeological sites.

    None looks quite like Djenné, whose great mosque is a huge structure made of earth, with pointed earth towers and massive, protruding timbers.

    In making its decision, the World Heritage Committee appealed to the international community to help protect the Old Towns of Djenné in the centre of the country, which saw a military coup in 2012 and an insurgency in the north.

    Demolitions in West Bank condemned by UN relief and works agency

    A large-scale demolition in the Bedouin refugee community at Anata in the occupied West Bank has been condemned by the UN relief and works agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

    Seven residential structures, four animal shelters and four toilet units, were destroyed, the agency’s spokesperson Chris Gunness confirmed.

    As a result seven UNRWA registered refugee families with a total forty-three individuals, including twenty-five children, were displaced.

    Mr Gunness called on Israel as an occupying power to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention which obliges it to respect family rights, including dwellings of the protected population.

    He described the disregard for international law as “shocking” and “heartbreaking”.

    UNRWA teams are providing assistance to the impacted refugee families.

    “Virulent” bird flu spreads across in west and central Africa

    Governments across west and central Africa need to be vigilant as the highly infective H5N1 bird flu spreads across the region, the Food and Agriculture Organization has warned.

    The strain can infect and cause death in humans and kills poultry at a high rate.

    Cameroon has become the latest country in the region to detect the virus following outbreaks in chicken farms in the country.

    This is the first the disease has been found in Central Africa since 2006, bringing the total number of countries that have battled the bird flu to six.

    These countries are Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger and Nigeria.

    Nigeria continues to be most affected with the total number of outbreaks exceeding 750 with nearly 3.5 million birds dead or culled.

    Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

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