News in Brief 27 July 2015 (PM)

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UNRWA holds emergency session of donors and hosts do discuss the agency’s financial situation. Photo: UNRWA

Funding shortfall may delay opening of Palestinian schools

Half a million children may not start school on time this year in the Occupied Palestinian Territory due to a severe funding shortage at the UN agency which supports Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

The agency said it is facing a US$101 million deficit this year, which it called its worst financial crisis ever.

Without the funding, it may have to delay the beginning of the academic year at about 700 of its schools.

UNRWA's leaders and donor countries held an emergency session to discuss the crisis.

All parties in South Sudan called on to "lay down arms"

All parties to the conflict in South Sudan have been urged by the UN humanitarian chief to lay down their arms and commit to halting what has been described as a "rapidly spiralling crisis".

Stephen O'Brien recently wrapped up a four-day visit to the youngest African nation which has been plagued by civil unrest for nearly two years.

He said he was deeply shocked by what he saw.

The UN estimates that some 4.6 million people are severely food insecure in South Sudan, while massive displacement continues.

Health services suspended in Iraq

Over 180 frontline health services have been suspended in Iraq due to the paralyzing funding shortfall for humanitarian activities, according to the top UN relief official in the country.

Lise Grande confirmed that over 80 per cent of general health programmes have been forced to shut down, affecting one million people.

She said that at a time when the people of Iraq need support the most, they are being let down.

Only 15 per cent of the current humanitarian aid appeal of US$498 million has so far been received.

Concern over "heightened tensions" at Holy Sites of Old City of Jerusalem

Concern is being raised by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process over recent incidents and heightened tensions in and around the Holy Sites of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Nickolay Mladenov is calling upon all religious and political leaders to prevent extremist elements from abusing the sanctity of Holy Sites and the different religious sentiments of all people.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 2’07″

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