UN envoy warns Gaza is imploding, economy in freefall

Palestinian protesters carry a youth injured by Israeli forces at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza city, on October 12, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2018
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UN envoy warns Gaza is imploding, economy in freefall

  • Nickolay Mladenov delivered the warning to the Security Council a day after Israeli warplanes struck the Gaza Strip
  • Every second person in Gaza now lives below the poverty line, he said

UN, New York: With its economy in a freefall and tensions rising with Israel, the Hamas-ruled enclave of Gaza is imploding, the UN envoy for the Middle East warned Thursday.
Nickolay Mladenov delivered the warning to the Security Council a day after Israeli warplanes struck the Gaza Strip in retaliation at rocket firings from the Palestinian territory.
“Gaza is imploding. This is not hyperbole. This is not alarmism. It is a reality,” Mladenov told the council.
He cited World Bank figures showing official unemployment at 53 percent, with more than 70 percent of Palestinian youths jobless.
Every second person in Gaza now lives below the poverty line, he said.
Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for a decade, on Thursday pledged to launch an investigation into the rocket fire after denying any involvement in the attack, but Israel rejected the denials.
“We remain on the brink of another potentially devastating conflict, a conflict that nobody claims to want, but a conflict that needs much more than just words to prevent,” said Mladenov.
The United Nations has made some headway in joint efforts with Egypt to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but Mladenov warned this could collapse.
“Barring substantial steps to reverse the current course, this precarious sense of calm is doomed to give way under the mounting pressure. It is already beginning to fray,” he said.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars in Gaza since 2008.


Lebanon urges return of refugees to Syria

Updated 21 January 2019
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Lebanon urges return of refugees to Syria

  • President Michel Aoun tells Arab economic summit that Lebanon was overwhelmed by Syrian and Palestinian refugees
  • Aoun proposes creation of an Arab bank for reconstruction and development

BEIRUT: Lebanon used an Arab economic summit on Sunday to urge the return of refugees to safe areas of Syria after eight years of war.

President Michel Aoun told the meeting Lebanon was overwhelmed by Syrian and Palestinian refugees, who make up about half the population of a country struggling with an economic crisis.

He proposed the creation of an Arab bank for reconstruction and development “to help all affected Arab states overcome adversity and contribute to their sustainable economic growth.”

The meeting is the first economic and development summit since 2013, and comes as Syria, Yemen and Libya remain gripped by violence and Iraq confronts a massive reconstruction challenge after its costly victory over Daesh.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said nearly half of all refugees “come from our Arab world.”

The emir of Qatar, and the president of Mauritania were the only heads of state from the 22-member Arab League who attended the summit. Other countries sent lower-level delegations.

The other leaders’ absence was a snub to Lebanon, where groups led by Hezbollah had insisted that Bashar Assad of Syria should be invited.

Several hundred people protested in the streets of Beirut on Sunday, blaming politicians for growing economic troubles.