News in Brief 06 July 2017 – AM

Global food costs rise to a near two-year high

Global food costs have risen to the highest in nearly two years, driven by record butter prices, together with the rising cost of wheat and meat.

That’s according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price index for June, which tracks international market prices of five major food groups.

The overall index rose by 4.2 per cent for the month, with butter reaching a record high price due to limited export availability in the dairy market.

Hot and dry weather in the United States and Europe led to a surge in wheat prices, amid concerns for the harvest.

In contrast, maize prices were down, due to record harvests in South America.

Meat prices rose for the sixth consecutive month, up 1.8 per cent during June.

Despite rising wheat prices, global cereal supplies overall, are likely to remain abundant in the coming year, according to FAO’s latest Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, also released on Thursday.

UN chief returns to talks aimed at reunification of Cyprus

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres returned to Switzerland on Thursday, to re-join talks aimed at reunifying the island of Cyprus, after 43 years of division.

The UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday that the UN chief had received calls for his return to help mediate, from different parties to the talks.

Cyprus was divided amidst political crisis in 1974, between the Turkish-speaking north and Greek-speaking south.

According to news reports, a number of crucial sticking points remain between the two sides after eight days of talks in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.

Chief among them is the future of around 35,000 Turkish troops that remain on the island.

Mr Guterres attended the talks last week, when he called for the leaders on both sides to grasp “an historic opportunity” to reach a lasting settlement.

Renewed fighting and violence in Syria source of major concern: UN

Renewed violence and attacks in Syria continue to be a major source of concern for the UN humanitarian support operation.

With the civil war now in its seventh year, dozens of civilians continue to be killed and injured, said UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

Many were killed on Tuesday by a car bomb which detonated in front of a learning centre, near Hafasarja town, in Idleb province, and there were multiple attacks in Rural Damascus and Aleppo.

The fate of those caught up in the offensive to retake the city of Raqqa from ISIL or Daesh extremists is an on-going source of concern, said Mr Dujarric.

“Since 1 April, the total number of people who have been displaced has topped 190,000. Aid workers are providing assistance, including food and medicine, to displaced people from within Syria and cross-border in Raqqa, Al-Hassakeh, and Der Ez-Zor governorates. We continue to call on all parties to the conflict � and those with influence over them � to ensure permanent and unhindered access by all humanitarians.”

Source: United Nations Radio