the plight of syrians get worse. nearly half a million had in siege ahead of planned talks. i'm jane dutton in doha with the world news. the former ivory coast president accused of humanitarian crimes. iran's president is in paris with trade deals expected to be discussed after the lifting of sanctions. latin america is seeking help to
stop the spread of the zika virus. as the politicians haggle over talks to stop the syrian war, the united nations says the number of people living under siege has increased to half a million. they have accused food not reaching. >> reporter: the situation in syria has gone from bad to worse. that was a key message from steven o'brien the top humanitarian official when he briefed the security council. the number that jumps out the most is the increase and the number of syrians currently living in besieged areas, areas cut off from any sort of regular aid. that number is now up to 486,700
syrians that live in that condition. of those 274,000 of them live in areas besieged by the syrian government according to the u.n., another 200,000 live in areas besieged by i.s.i.l. and 12,000 in areas besieged by non-state armed groups such as the al-nusra front. o'brien says that the use of siege and starvation as a weapon of war is, in his words, reprehensible. he also said that the u.n. security council needs to do more. >> reporter: you've taken action, you have authorised cross-borrowed assistance and you have launched a political process. but for the millions of people trapped under siege, malnourished and lacki ining ba supplies, you have not done enough. >> reporter: he was very critical of the syrian government. he said the government last year only approved 10% of the more
than 100 requests by the u.n. to get aid convoys in to people that needed it the most. he called this "unacceptable', and urged the syrian government to do more to help. he also reminded the security council that the war in syria remains the most savage and brutal conflict under siege one of the towns in madaya is not good and the following story could be disturbing. >> reporter: this man died on wednesday because like thousands of his neighbors he didn't have enough to eat. two days before this group of men trudged through snow covered streets carrying the coffin of a woman. the man filming this sad
procession said they asked aid agencies for help. >> translation: we asked the red crescent, the red cross and other humanitarian organizations, but no-one answered. their hearts are colder than the ones of hezbollah. they left her sick and hungry until she died. >> reporter: food and medical supplies were trucked in a little over two weeks ago, but people are still in the grip of malnutrition. at least 14 have died since the convoy arrived. in addition to the dozenss of clooifs previously claimed to hunger. forces loyal to bashar al-assad still blockade the town. hezbollah fighters have told residents to abandon their homes. hezbollah is battling the syrian opposition in nearby districts. >> translation: for more than 220 days now madaya and the surrounding areas have been subjected to a siege by hezbollah and regime forces. anyone who tries to leave will be shot or killed by lands
mines. >> reporter: the world food program says close to half a million people are cut off from food. international pressure is growing on the president bashar al-assad to allow more aid through. the syrian regime, the government is responsible for blocking access to 15 of the now 18 besieged areas. that's a bad statistic for u.n. >> reporter: the people of madaya are hoping for more aid convoys. as food supplies run out again, that small hope is all some of them have left. rob matheson the iranian president is in paris. he has met the french foreign minister and will be holding talks with francois hollande. sanctions connected with the nuclear program now lifted,
trade deals are expected to be on the agenda. his five-day visit to europe is a first by an iranian president in nearly two decades. the ivory coast's former president gbagbo is on trial in the icc. he and his former youth leader are appearing at the hague. they're charged with four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape, following elections in 2010. they say they are innocent. in 2010 the president lost his bid for re-election. he refused to recognise the election results and step down, despite statements from the u.n., the african union and the e.u. recognising that his opponent had won. forces then stormed the capital backed by u.n. and french troops. over 1500 people died in three months of violence during the
political stands-off in the area. forces were accused of targeting residential areas that were known to support the group. it was also accused of killing gbagbo supporters. joining us now from the hague is our correspondent. what is expected? >> reporter: this is just the start of what's promising to be a lengthy trial. the court, the icc, which has moved premises to the building you see behind me recently, they decided to try these two men, the former minister as well as a military chief, together because prosecutors said they would be presenting basically the same
evidence against the two men. of course, it has taken a long time to get them to trial. gbagbo was brought here to the netherlands in 2011, the year after the election that he refused to admit defeat in, and his co-offender in 2014. they've been here some time. earlier on there was a large crowd of gbago supporters outside the court here in the hague. they have been demanding the release of gbagbo saying he was the rightful winner back in 2010, and there are certainly supporters back in the country as well who are following this very closely. rights groups have been stressing that this is an important day because gbagbo is the first ex-head of state to go on trial here at the icc but
they've also been reminding everybody as you outlined that there were crimes committed by supporters of the current president as well and they would like to see prosecutions brought against people connected to him here as well we're looking at a live picture now. the trial is well underway. i'm just wondering how this has been viewed in the ivory coast. >> reporter: i think it's a very mixed picture and it really shows how divided the country still is since that election in 120. -- 120. there were a-- 2010. there were atrocities on both sides. rights groups believe that at least 3,000 people were killed and at least 150 women raped during those several months of violence following the elections. they have been stressing the
importance of the ivory coast bringing to justice people on both sides and, in fact, there has been talk of a delay in getting witnesses for people aligned to the president, and perhaps witness intimidation in ivory coast itself. it is important to know that the wife of gbagbo has been jailed in the ivory coast but the icc still wants to see her extradited here to face similar crimes against humanity. it is not clear if that will happen thank you. iraqi government leaders are being urged to intervene immediately and liberate the city of fallujah from i.s.i.l. control. seven fighters were killed. around 5,000 families are reported to be trapped there. city leaders are also demanding the u.s. led coalition intensify air strikes on i.s.i.l.
fighters. they captured the city in the province in 2014. iraqi military says six soldiers have been killed after being attacked by i.s.i.l. near ramadi. their convoy was hit by two bombs in the village of the east city and the army says it has lanched an offence-- launched an offence on the town just outside ramadi. government workers in iraq are paying the costs of the rising costs of the war. civil servants have had their salaries cut and get paid every six weeks instead of monthly. >> reporter: this woman works for the government in baghdad. she was happy to get a government job because it provided security and a regular pay check, or so she said. the price of oil has caused a
pay cut for her and she gets paid 45 days instead of monthly. >> translation: there is a big fear amongst the employees. most of the employees are depends end on those salaries. if they get cut, they won't survive. they might seek other options, maybe even terrorism. >> reporter: as soon as oil prices rise salaries will be restored to previous levels and payments backdated. that cost will be huge. iraqi society heavily relies on government jobs. around 95% of the revenue of the country comes from oil. about 4.5 billion people are on the state payroll and 7.5 million people receive state pensions. any cut in those pensions or payrolls means that there is a direct impact in places like this, the markets, and the ability for iraqis to be able to feed themselves and to be able to look after themselves.
this man says shoppers are not buying as much as they used to. >> translation: the purchase power for people have declined because of the austerity measures implemented by the government. people used to buy extra. now they don't. they want to save in case times get tougher. >> reporter: specialists say that fear is well founded. >> translation: state employees have the right to be afraid by their salaries. the government's actions in such regard is mounting fear and pressure on civil servants. it coincides with the past pacing economic national developments that over shadow iraq's economic situation. these fears will continues. >> reporter: even the most optimistic of assessments sees the country facing tough times ahead. it is people here that are living from one pay check to
another with little idea if and when things will improve turkey says 20 fighters have been killed after they attacked the army in the southern cities. the military reports they were all members of the bands kurdistan workers party, or the p.k.k. three soldiers also died in the fighting. nearly 600 people have died since the military launched an offensive in the region a month ago. coming up in the program, the human toll of australia's offshore detention program for asylum seekers. plus south africans drink much more than any others in the nation. find out what the government intends to do about it.
welcome back. a quick reminder of the top stories on al jazeera. the u.n. says the number of people living understand siege in syria has-- under siege in syria has increased to nearly half a million. the world food program has accused the regime from stopping aid from reaching the people. gbagbo and his former youth leader are appearing in the icc. 12 refugees have drowned off turkey. their boat sanctioned in the
sea. -- sank off an island. many have died after risking the short but dangerous crossing. three more people have been arrested in oregon where armed protesters continued to occupy a refuge. seven were arrested on tuesday including the leader ammon bundy. an update from burns, oregon. >> reporter: we saw a very interesting change for three and a half weeks now. we heard the governor of oregon, the f.b.i. and the local sheriff is the occupiers of the refuge to leave, to go home. we heard their leader speaking through his lawyer in pardon
lands saying-- portland saying it's time to stand down. go home, hug your families, let us take it from here. clearly an indication that whatever happens here locally in south-east oregon at the rev juj that has-- refuge that has been occupied for so long, however happens here, whatever resolution comes out, it is clear that the broader issues of land reform, land use and federal control of property here is not going away. this is a movement that we will see again. ammon bundy and seven others were arraigned today in portland. they face federal charges, felony charges relating to impeding federal officers from doing their job. so as it stands now, there are at least five people, we believe, still at that refuge, still saying they intend to stay and police and f.b.i. have a heavy, heavy presence on the very few roads surrounding that isolated refuge the spread of the zika virus has been top of the agendas at a
meeting of latin american leaders in e kr cuador. brazil's president says they have a joint responsibility to fight the virus. >> reporter: it wasn't on the agenda, the annual meeting of latin american and caribbean heads of state, but then because of the risk of the speed of the virus throughout americas couldn't be foreseen. >> we are all aware and will make an effort to cooperate with technological and scientific research. the only way to cooperate at this time is by sharing knowledge and experience. >> reporter: the virus which is believed to cause severe neurological defect in newborns has had the most issues in brazil, where child return are
born with microcephaly. researchers are finding ways to contain the epidemic. many countries tends to follow the example of brazil, sending out the army on a search and destroy mission. hundreds of thousands of soldiers going house to house looking for still clean water, the her pekt breeding grounds for the mosquitos. these measures can only diminish the epidemic but not eradicate the virus which is spreading like wild fire. that is true during the hot summer months here in the southern area where it is perfect conditions for the mosquito to breed. central america too ask on high alert. >> translation: before we have a vaccine ready, there is only one way to solve this, which is by getting the population to help as well. everyone will need to fight this together. otherwise we will lose it. >> reporter: but regional
leaders recognise that for many of the most impacted countries, the epidemic could not have begun at a worse time. the countries like brazil and vz where a severe economic recession is crippling public health services temperatures of mine us 24 haven't stopped a show show of force from marines. they've been hold iing training. a report from our correspondent from the military training area >> reporter: it is a combindz exercise, a show that the u.s. and south korean marines can act in all temperatures. it comes a few weeks after north korea's fourth nuclear test and also comes on the day of reports in the japanese press citing japanese government sources that north korea is preparing at this
moment a long-range rocket launch, what the international community would consider to be a ballistic missile test. this follows something of a pattern. if indeed it does happen. north korea has often used a rocket launch after a nuclear test or, indeed, vice versa. this group is really much a pre-lewd to what will be a much bigger annual exercise here, which takes takes place every year later in february, but always creates tensions between south korea and north korea. this time around just after this nuclear test it is likely to do so again flash floods have caused serious damage in an australian city. gelong faces a huge bill. it had a huge fall in just two hours. human watch says australian refugee system needs a rejig.
more than 900 asylum seekers and refugees were detained on mani shgs island. more than 600 were in nauru and 33 says they were raped or sexually assaulted there. in main lands immigration detention centers and on christmas island, more than 300 children committed or threatened self harm. 30 say they were sexually abused. from the island andrew thomas reports. >> reporter: refugees deported by australia after arriving there by boat have spent almost three years stuck on a remote island in papua new guinea. >> this torture is like an indefinite torture. >> reporter: these men spent two years in this prison before they were verified as genuine refugees and they were then
transferred into this transit center nearby. they can now walk in the nearby town but they're still stuck here. they're not allowed to work and say they are regularly attacked by the locals who don't like them on the island. >> i don't want to say that people are bad, which might risk me again, but it's clear when i tell you, you need to be at any time you are walking around, cautious, alarmed. it's really scary. >> reporter: there are nearly 2,000 refugees languishing, their lives on hold. all men are on this island. the women are stuck on the equally remote island of nauru. in theory they are starting new lives. in practice there's little sign of that. their expulsion was designed to sends a signal. don't get on boats hoping to reach australia. we won't let you stay. boats have stopped coming. this is archived video. >> we're doing this because it
was-- they are doing this because it has worked. torturing us so other refugees will not come to its border. i don't know what to say about australia. >> reporter: the costs of holding these refugees, billions of dollars, are paid by australian taxpayers. despite allegations of violence, sexual assault and suicide aattempts, government workers who look after the detainees are barred from talking about it publicly. >> it is rife, this secrecy across the entire network. what we've seen is that that secrecy allows a very, very unhealthy and toxic culture to breed. >> reporter: hanson young is one of a small group who set up an inquiry to give privilege. it will run all year, although few australians are likely to pay much attention. an election is due this year.
the fate of people like this is not likely to feature much south africans have a series drinking habit. more beer, wine and spirits are drunk there than anywhere else in africa. while many have a good time, others need treatment for alcohol abuse. that headache is expected to worsen because beer consumption is expected to soar. our correspondent reports from johannesberg. >> reporter: a weekends afternoon here. this is a favorite spot for people looking to spends the afternoon drinking traditional beer. it is made from mm-hmm have maise and water. at 35 cents a pint it is cheap and popular. while home-made brews are in demands across africa, the younger generation are spending their money elsewhere.
this is one in six pubs here. it is always packed. as the hours wear on, the drinking takes its toll. of the manager here says he attends responsible drinking workshops run by the largest beer producers. >> we need to make sure that people recover after a weekends of drinking. so we close at 12 o'clock on sundayss so people can get rest so that they can go to work and rest. you don't want people to lose their jobs because those are most of our customers. >> reporter: sab miller has been taken over by the world's largest brewer. the merged group would have 275 dollars with sab miller providing access to a growing market. >> many countries in africa, there are illegally produced beverages which can cause
damage. sab perfected the way to manufacture beer. >> reporter: while the department of trade and industry says alcohol contributes about 5% of south africa's gross product, the medical journal estimates an alcohol abuse costs the economy do you believe. this woman sees many clients a week. >> we have a lot of young people coming in with cases of substance abuse and not alcohol abuse, but once we assess the whole situation as to where everything started and what led to what, then we find that this person is abusing alcohol and they're not really social users as they call themselves. >> reporter: according to the company beer volumes are expected to grow by 44% in the next 10 years, making one of the largest acquisition deals in history all the more attractive
there are lots of stories on our website, those problems why south africa, all the other stuff that is happening around the world, the refugees, that's our lead story on the website. that's constantly updated by blogs and comments from our correspondents. check it out. aljazeera.com usually means this. it can be controversial, it can also be extremely beneficial. >> just like that, i'm genetically modified the mosquitos that carry two