World News

UN: Syria Extends Humanitarian Pause in Homs

The United Nations says the Syrian government and opposition have agreed to extend a humanitarian pause in the beleaguered city of Homs for another three days.

U.N. Humanitarian Affairs chief Valerie Amos in a statement Monday welcomed the agreement that came days after she says U.N. and Syrian Arab Red Crescent workers were "deliberately targeted" in the city.

Amos says she hopes the humanitarian pause will allow them to evacuate more civilians and deliver much needed supplies to the area. More than 800 people have been evacuated from the rebel-held city since Thursday.

Meanwhile Monday, delegates from the Syrian government and the opposition opened a second round of peace talks in Geneva Monday.

U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met separately with the two sides in an attempt to set the agenda for discussing issues such as setting up a potential transitional government and humanitarian aid in besieged areas.

Syrian opposition spokesman Monzer Akbik said his side laid out its vision of a transitional government in Syria.

"We submitted also another paper talking about our vision to the political solution by transition to a transitional governing body, this is what Geneva communique says and the vision shows that a transitional governing body should be able, with the full authority, in a neutral environment, should be able to end the violence and take the country towards reconciliation and democracy."

A spokesman for Syria's opposition National Coalition, Louay al-Safi, also denounced what he said were the government's use of "barrel bombs", which the opposition says were responsible for the deaths of more than 1,800 people last week.

"It is not acceptable that the regime would send its own delegation to talk peace while it is killing our people in Syria. This must stop, we ask the international community to do something about it. "

Monday's talks followed an initial round last month that ended with little progress, but one that Brahimi called "a modest beginning" to build on. Following the meeting with opposition delegates, Brahimi met with the Syrian government delegation, but no afternoon talks were expected.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday that France is preparing a new draft U.N. Security Council resolution to help speed food and medicine to those in besieged areas.

A year-long blockade of Homs by Syrian government forces has created severe food shortages, and the United Nations says 2,500 people have been stranded since mid-2012.

Also Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamist fighters killed at least 40 people Sunday in an attack on an Alawite village. The monitoring group said the attack occurred in Hama province, and the dead include at least 20 civilians.

More than 130,000 people have been killed and nine million forced from their homes since the conflict began in 2011.]]

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs