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UN chief condemns Central African Republic attack

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has strongly condemned Sunday's attack allegedly carried out by the anti-Balaka group against a convoy of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), in which one peacekeeper from Egypt was killed and three others were injured.

In a statement issued by his Spokesperson's office, the Secretary-General offered his deepest condolences and sympathy to the family of the victim and to the Government of Egypt.

He also wished the wounded a speedy recovery.

This latest attack brings the total number of peacekeepers killed in CAR to 13, since the beginning of the year.

The statement said that the Secretary-General firmly recalls that attacks against UN peacekeepers may constitute a war crime and calls on the country's authorities to investigate the attack to swiftly bring those responsible to justice.

The Secretary-General reaffirmed the determination of the UN to advance the implementation of the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in CAR, (MINUSCA), recently renewed by the Security Council, in particular to protect civilians.

Zimbabwe sanctions must go to boost post-Mugabe economy: UN rights experts

Sanctions on Zimbabwe should be lifted following the resignation of President Robert Mugabe to help the country recover from their "devastating" economic impact, two UN rights experts said on Monday.

In their appeal to the international community, Special Rapporteurs Idriss Jazairy and Alfred de Zayas insisted that the embargoes in place since the early part of the century have been neither "limited" nor "targeted".

The departure of Mr Mugabe six days ago "heralds the emergence of a new era" based on democracy and the rule of law, the UN Human Rights Council-mandated investigators said in their joint statement.

But these things cannot happen if Zimbabwe continues to face "economic coercion", they added, explaining that some businesses had been "over-complying" with sanctions, owing to confusion about their scope.

Madagascar plague epidemic "declining" but response must continue

Madagascar's "unprecedented outbreak" of deadly pneumonic plague is slowing down, but there's no room for complacency and the response must be sustained, said the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday.

According to the African island nation's Ministry of Health, the number of new infections has steadily declined in recent weeks, which indicates that measures taken to contain the outbreak have been effective, so far.

Between August and last week, a total of 2,348 cases of the ancient killer disease have been reported, including 202 deaths.

"It's a tragedy that a disease from the Middle Ages that can be easily treated, could threaten an entire country and kill more than 200", said Peter Salama, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

More infections of both bubonic and pneumonic plague are expected until the end of the plague season in April next year, but WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that "the worst of the outbreak is over".

Nearly all identified plague patients and almost 7,300 people who were exposed to them, were provided with life-saving treatment free of charge, said WHO.

Source: United Nations Radio

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