**Central African Republic
Turning to the Central African Republic, following clashes last week in the city of Alindao, the UN peacekeepers are now patrolling the city to protect civilians, including some 400 people displaced by the violence who have sought shelter at the UN base. The clashes took place on 9 January and involved the country’s armed forces and members of an armed group associated with the ex-Séléka coalition. Two personnel from the Central African Republic’s armed forces died in the violence. Today, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) says that the situation is calm, despite continuing tensions. They are preparing to send a team to Alindao consisting of police, human rights and justice, and prison officers to investigate the clashes. Meanwhile, we also have an update on efforts to secure Bangui’s PK5 neighbourhood. The Mission says that all 13 bases of the ex-self-defence groups have now been dismantled. UN peacekeepers continue to conduct joint patrols with the Central African Republic’s Internal Security Forces to protect civilians. The Mission has also launched an awareness campaign in the PK5 neighbourhood to explain to the community its outreach and work to protect civilians.
Our colleagues at the UN country team in Kenya today voiced their deep distress at the rising cases of terrorist attacks on schools, teachers and students, especially in the north-east of the country. Noting that the bombings of schools and the killing of civilians violate international humanitarian law, the team said it is especially troubling that the regions most affected by these attacks are already lagging behind in school attendance rates. The UN in Kenya is determined to work with the Government to implement the UN’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
Turning to Syria, I want to say that we remain deeply concerned for the safety and protection of over 3 million civilians in Idlib and surrounding areas in north-west Syria, over half of whom are internally displaced, following new reports of air strikes and shelling. Despite the announcement of a ceasefire that began on 12 January, there were reports today of air strikes and shelling impacting civilians in various parts of Idlib, including air strikes on Idlib city, reportedly killing 15 people and injuring scores. Civilian infrastructure was also reportedly damaged. Tens of families have reportedly moved through so‑called “corridors” announced by the Russian Federation on 13 January for civilians who want to move to areas under the control of the Government of Syria. The UN urges all parties, and those with influence over those parties, to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, in line with their obligations under international humanitarian law.
And just a quick update from the Philippines and our colleagues at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and they are telling us that the Philippines authorities are reviewing contingency plans having to deal with the ongoing situation with the Taal volcano. They have asked several UN agencies — including that Office, World Food Programme (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) — for their support. We will obviously do what we can to help.