World News

    UN Welcomes Humanitarian Agreement for Syrian City



    The United Nations is welcoming reports from Syria that there is an agreement on a plan to allow civilians to leave some areas of the besieged city of Homs.

    A U.N. spokesman says Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos has welcomed word of a "humanitarian pause" that would allow civilians to leave the old city of Homs and allow relief workers to deliver aid for about 2,500 people.

    The spokesman said Thursday the U.N. and its humanitarian partners have pre-positioned food, medicine and other supplies nearby and are ready to deliver the aid as soon as they receive an assurance of safe passage.

    The U.N. spokesman could not confirm the agreement, which was announced earlier Thursday in Syrian state media reports. The spokesman told VOA that discussions on a deal had been ongoing.

    The old city of Homs has been cut off from humanitarian aid for more than a year.

    The country's SANA news agency says the government and the U.N. have reached an agreement that will allow some residents to leave the old city.

    The news agency says the deal covers "innocent civilians" -- including women, children, the elderly and injured people. The status of men was not immediately clear.



    More than 130,000 people have been killed and 9.5 million displaced since Syria's civil war broke out in 2011.

    Syrian government and opposition delegates discussed the status of civilians in Homs during recent peace talks in Geneva.

    In another development, the U.N. has urged the Syrian government to speed up its removal of chemical agents from the country for destruction.

    In a Thursday statement, the U.N. Security Council called on Syria to "expedite actions to meet its obligation" to transport and remove "relevant chemicals."

    The council's statement followed a closed-door briefing with Sigrid Kaag, the international special coordinator overseeing the removal and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons.

    Kaag told reporters that while Syria had missed some deadlines, the overall goals of the mission could still be met.



    "The deadline of the 30th of June, 2014, we have stated and has been reiterated by the secretary general, can be met. That is the important one. Intermediate milestones ideally should have been met. They have not been met. There are delays. What we are now doing is to ensure that a plan will be available against which further benchmarking can take place that allows for planning, preparation, swift implementation."



    However, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said the Syrian government needed to immediately fulfill its obligations under the chemical weapons convention and U.N. Security Council guidelines.



    "We know the regime has the ability to move these weapons and materials because they have moved them multiple times over the course of this conflict. It is time for the Assad government to stop its foot-dragging, establish a transportation plan and stick to it."



    Syria has made two shipments of chemical weapons materials, removing about five percent of its stockpile.

    Kaag said the percentage of what is removed and destroyed continues to grow.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora