News in Brief 19 April 2017 (AM)

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Electrical power transmission lines in Gaza City. Photo: World Bank/Natalia Cieslik (file)

Resolve Gaza energy crisis, UN Middle East official urges

A senior UN official is calling for resolution of the electricity crisis in Gaza, where the sole power plant has run out of fuel.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said the social, economic and political consequences of what he called "the impending energy crisis" should not be underestimated.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr Mladenov said "Palestinians in Gaza, who live in a protracted humanitarian crisis, can no longer be held hostage by disagreements, divisions and closures."

He urged all sides, including the international community, to come together and find a solution.

Mr Mladenov stated that reform of the Gaza electricity company is essential to improve revenue collection and transparency in line with international standards.

"The defacto authorities in Gaza must ensure that collection rates are improved and that revenue collected in Gaza is returned to the legitimate Palestinian authorities in order to keep fuel and electricity supply flowing," he added.

Meanwhile, the international community should finance and support the reform process, he continued, while the Palestinian government should facilitate fuel purchases for the power plant in ways that reduce relevant taxes.

Mr Mladenov said Israel also should assist by facilitating the entry of materials for repairs and maintenance of the grid and power plant, while Egyptian power lines to Gaza also need to be repaired and upgraded.

Italian mayor and European NGO honoured for saving refugee lives

The mayor of an Italian island and a European NGO are being honoured by the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, for their work in saving the lives of refugees and migrants.

Giuseppina Nicolini, Mayor of Lampedusa, and SOS Méditerranée are the winners of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, which is presented to individuals and institutions who contribute to promoting or maintaining peace.

Ms Nicolini has been mayor of Lampedusa since 2012.

She has been recognized for her "boundless humanity and unwavering commitment" in responding to the arrival of scores of refugees in Lampedusa and elsewhere in Italy, according to UNESCO.

SOS Méditerranée has saved more than 11,000 lives since launching its rescue operation in February 2016.

US funding helps WFP address malnutrition in Mozambique

A contribution by the United States will help the World Food Programme (WFP) to support pregnant and nursing women and people living with HIV or tuberculosis (TB) in Mozambique.

The extra US$2.7 million in funding, announced on Wednesday, will be used to provide fortified blended food to treat malnutrition among these groups, reaching 21,000 people in five provinces worst affected by drought.

WFP explained that people living with HIV or TB are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition.

Furthermore, the medications they take lose efficiency unless combined with good nutrition.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3'20"

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