News in Brief 1 February 2017 (AM)

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Palestinian women walk near Israel’s barrier near Ramallah in the West Bank. File Photo: IRIN/Shabtai Gold

Israeli settlement expansion could be "obstacle" to peace

The decision by the Israeli government to approve the building of more than 5,000 new housing units on land in the occupied West Bank, could be an "obstacle" to peace.

That's according to a statement issued by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Stéphane Dujarric, issued on Wednesday.

He warned against "any unilateral actions that can be an obstacle to a negotiated two-state solution" and called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to "return to meaningful negotiations on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions".

He said the UN "stands ready to support this process."

According to news reports, 3,000 new units were approved by Israel on Tuesday, a week after approving 2,500 homes in the West Bank and 566 in occupied East Jerusalem.

US travel ban "breaches Washington's human rights obligations"

The Executive Order signed by the United States President barring nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days "breaches Washington's human rights obligations" according to a group of UN independent experts.

President Donald Trump's order bars nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US, as of last Friday.

The UN Special Rapporteurs on migrants, racism, human rights, torture, and freedom of religion, issued a joint statement on Wednesday saying that the order was "clearly discriminatory based on one's nationality and leads to increased stigmatization of Muslim communities."

The statement adds that the policy on immigration – which also suspends the US refugee resettlement programme for 120 days and bans refugees from Syria indefinitely – posed huge risks for those being turned away.

It "risks people being returned without proper individual assessments and asylum procedures to places in which they risk being subjected to torture and other cruel treatment" in direct contravention of international law, said the experts.

More than four out of five schoolchildren "not active enough": WHO

Four out of five school-aged children around the world "are not active enough", significantly increasing their risk of suffering from a stroke, diabetes or cancer.

That's the conclusion of the World Health Organization's current Action Plan for the Prevention of NCDs, or non-communicable diseases, which calls for a 10 per cent increase in physical activity by 2025 for youngsters.

"Less and less activity is occurring in many countries" says the report, and any amount of exercise is "better than none" it adds.

The Global Action Plan states that NCDs are the biggest cause of death worldwide, accounting for 36 million deaths each year, including 14 million who die prematurely.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2'24"

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