News in Brief 21 December 2016 (AM)

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Palestinian children play at UNRWA school in Gaza. UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan

Population of Palestinian Occupied Territory set to double by 2050

The population of the Palestinian Occupied Territory is set to double by 2050, signalling major social and economic problems ahead unless conflict with Israel can be resolved, according to a senior UN official.

Anders Thomsen is the UN Population Fund's (UNFPA) State of Palestine representative.

Speaking at the launch of a new UNFPA report examining demographic changes and development opportunities in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, he said the population of Gaza alone would rise from 2 million now, to nearly 5 million in the next 30 years.

He said Israel's on-going blockade of Gaza and the lack of a peace agreement was compounded by a fall in international funding for the Palestinian Authority overall.

"It's hard to imagine how you can create enough economic activity, jobs, to sustain the growing social services, the growing population, without a serious dialogue with the international community, including with Israel, on how to lift the blockade and how to roll back the occupation to ensure free movement of goods and people."

Unemployment in Gaza stands at 43 per cent, and one million new jobs need to be created across Palestine just to stay at current levels.

New study indicates hunger costs Madagascar's economy US$3 billion a year

A new UN-backed study shows that hunger costs Madagascar's economy nearly US$3.4 billion each year, which is the equivalent of nearly 15 per cent of its total output, or GDP.

The Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) study is an African Union-led project, backed by the World Food Programme and UN Economic Commission for Africa.

The Prime Minister of the large Indian Ocean nation, Olivier Solon-andra-sana, said that more investment was needed to combat chronic malnutrition in Madagascar.

Receiving the results of the study, he said that nearly half of all children under -five in the country were affected by stunting, or impaired growth.

Madagascar is the tenth country in Africa to have conducted the COHA study and results show that African economies lose between two and 17 per cent of GDP due to child malnutrition alone.

Disaster relief for Tajikistan will come faster thanks to new agreement

Disaster relief for Tajikistan is set to arrive faster, following the signing of a new customs agreement between the government and the UN.

The agreement announced by the UN Humanitarian Affairs office (OCHA) on Wednesday, is the first of its kind in Central Asia; it will simplify the import, export and transit of life-saving aid and supplies, during large-scale emergencies.

Tajikistan is vulnerable to a wide-range of natural hazards, including earthquakes, floods and landslides.

In the past ten years, around three million people, or a third of the population, have suffered due to a natural disaster, according to UN figures.

Priyanka Shankar, United Nations.

Duration: 3’05″

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