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Insurgents in Iraq 'have seized nuclear materials'

Insurgents in northern Iraq have seized nuclear materials from Mosul University, according to a letter from an Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations.

Islamist insurgents have seized nuclear materials in northern Iraq. Credit: Reuters

The letter appealed for UN help to "stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad" after around 88 pounds of uranium compounds were apparently seized.

In a letter obtained by Reuters, Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on July 8: "Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state."

He added that the nuclear materials could "be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction" and warned they could also be smuggled out of Iraq.

The materials were not believed to be enriched uranium and therefore would be difficult to use in manufacturing a weapon of mass destruction, a US government source told the news agency.

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Russia calls on UN to support Ukraine ceasefire

A member of the "Donbass" self-defence battalion takes part in a training at a base of the National Guard of Ukraine. Credit: Reuters\Valentyn Ogirenk

Russia has called an emergency meeting of the United Nations' most powerful body, seeking an immediate halt to the deadly clashes in eastern Ukraine - after months of blocking any Security Council action.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow now wanted Security Council action to end weeks of violence in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents, a move immediately denounced by the United States as "hypocritical".

Child abuse activist 'positive' about Vatican commission

A child abuse activist and survivor is "positive" the Catholic Church's body investigating allegations of clerical sexual abuse will be more than just "a talking shop".

Marie Collins, who sits on the investigative board, was speaking ahead of the Holy See's testimony in front of the UN's torture committee into the church's handling of the sexual abuse crisis.

We are coming from very different perspectives but we all have one aim in mind, the protection of children and . . . I am happy at the moment that the meeting is addressing the issues I hoped it would address.

– Marie Collins

Catholic church to face UN grilling over child sex abuse

The Catholic church will find itself back "in the dock" as it is due to testify before the Committee Against Torture in Geneva.

Almost 400 priests were defrocked by Pope Benedict XVI in two years over child abuse claims. Credit: PA

Last February the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a damning report of the Catholic Church’s handling of its clerical sex abuse crisis, accusing it of being more concerned with protecting its reputation, than it was with looking after children.

More sex abuse victim groups have come forward in the US and submitted fresh claims, it has emerged.

The Catholic Church has criticised the UN's decision to include child abuse allegations at a hearing on torture.

Vatican spokesman Fr Frederico Lombardi rejected the attempt “to bring the issue of the sexual abuse of minors into the discussion on torture” rather than into child protection.

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UN denounces UK's 'boys' club sexist culture'

Sexism in the UK is more pervasive and "in your face" than other countries, a United Nations (UN) investigator has claimed.

UN special rapporteur on violence against women Rashida Manjoo said there is a "boys' club sexist culture" in Britain that influences perceptions of women and girls.

UN special rapporteur on violence Rashida Manjoo Credit: UN/PA

Following a 16-day visit to Britain, Ms Manjoo also warned Government cutbacks have hit violence-against-women services and confirmed reports she was blocked from entering controversial immigration detention centre for women, Yarl's Wood.

In an initial report on violence against women, the South African human rights expert said legal and policy responses focused on harmful practices, such as early and forced marriages but ignored the harms coming from a "a sexist culture that exists in the country".

UN chief voices alarm over Ukraine in Putin phone call

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced his alarm over the escalating Ukraine crisis in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A Russian flag flutters on a barricade in front of Kramatorsk airbase in eastern Ukraine. Credit: REUTERS/Marko Djurica

"The Secretary-General ... underlined that any deepening of the crisis would be profoundly detrimental for all concerned; hence the need for everyone to work to de-escalate the situation," a statement from Ban's office read.

UN Security Council to hold emergency meeting

The UN security council is due to hold an emergency meeting at 1am UK time. Credit: REUTERS/Eric Thayer

The United Nations Security Council will meet for an emergency session to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine today.

A diplomatic source has told Reuters the council will meet at 1am UK time at Russia's request.

Another diplomat has said negotiations are underway on Ukraine's participation.

Briton in Somalia 'working for UN drugs department'

Two consultants working for the United Nations, including one Briton were shot dead at Galkayo Airport in north central Somalia, a UN spokesman has said.

A UN spokesman said that the consultants were working for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

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