GAZA, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- A U.N. report called for urgent action in Gaza to meet the needs of its rapidly expanding population.
"Gaza will have 500,000 more people by 2020 while its economy will grow slowly. In consequence, the people of Gaza will have an even harder times getting enough drinking water and electricity, or sending their children to school," Maxwell Gaylard, the U.N. representative and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Palestinian territories, said of the published report he compiled with Jean Gough of the U.N. Children's Fund and Robert Turner of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East.
The report, which summarizes trends in Gaza and extrapolates to 2020, was published Monday.
Gaza's population is estimated to increase from 1.6 million people today to 2.1 million in 2020, the report said.
"The substantial population growth rate will thus add some 500,000 people to a living area which is restricted and already heavily urbanized. Fundamentally infrastructure in electricity, water and sanitation, municipal and social services, is struggling to keep peace with the needs of the growing population," the report said.
Gaza is isolated and kept alive through external funding, the illegal tunnel economy, and the ingenuity and persistence of its people, the report said.
"The viability of a future Palestinian state depends on a proper connection between the West Bank and Gaza, providing access to the Mediterranean for the entire occupied Palestinian territory," the report said.