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Central Pacific and Polynesian islands welcome in New Year

New Year celebrations have begun as the clock strikes midnight in islands in Polynesia and the Central Pacific.

Cities in Samoa, Tonga and Kiribati were the first to welcome in the new year as it hit 10am on New Year's Eve in London.

The end of 2016 will be marked in parts of New Zealand shortly afterwards, while celebrations are due to begin in Sydney at 1pm London time.


Don't let suffering 'slip from our minds', Archbishop urges

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged people not to let the Ebola crisis or war in areas such as South Sudan "slip from our minds" in his New Year message.

The Most Rev Justin Welby, who was diagnosed with pneumonia after being forced to pull out of his Christmas Day sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, issued the message from the National Memorial Arboretum.

Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

He praised the "extraordinary dedication" of the British military in Sierra Leone, one of the three west African countries worst affected by the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

He also spoke of his "unspeakable gratitude" to servicemen and women following the end of the war in Afghanistan.

Pope urges religions to unite against slavery

Pope Francis has urged people of all religions and cultures to unite and fight modern slavery and human trafficking, saying everyone has a God given right to be free.

The Pope 's theme for his first mass of 2015 was "No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters."

Pope Francis urged all religions to unite against slavery in his New Year mass. Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

"All of us are called [by God] to be free, all are called to be sons and daughters, and each, according to his or her own responsibilities, is called to combat modern forms of enslavement," he said.

"From every people, culture and religion, let us join our forces."


Pope Francis celebrates with New Year mass

Pope Francis has been celebrating the New Year with a special mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

Pope Francis blesses a boy as part of the New Year celebrations. Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Francis kisses the statue of baby Jesus as he arrives to lead the New Year mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Francis celebrates the New Year mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Glittering ball drops in New York to usher in 2015

Confetti drops in Times Square Credit: APTN

Around a million revellers gathered in Times Square in New York as the city welcomed in 2015.

There were cheers and kisses in the crowd after a glittering ball descended from high above and a ton of confetti rained down into the square.

A million people packed into Times Square Credit: APTN

Ecuador burns puppets in tradition to welcome in new year

Traditionally at the end of the year Ecuadorians burn puppets to symbolize the end of the old and bad and the starting of the good and new Credit: Reuters

People in Ecuador have burned puppets as part of their traditional new year. celebrations

The tradition symbolizes the end of the old and bad and the starting of the good and new.

Enormous puppets are hand-made for New Year's celebrations Credit: Reuters

Some jump the flames 12 times to represent a wish for each month.

A man jumps the flames for luck Credit: Reuters
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