Rebuilding Gaza Could Take a Century if Israel Maintains Its Blockade

February 27th, 2015 - by admin

Kieran Guilbert / Thomson Reuters Foundation & United Nations Relief and Works Association – 2015-02-27 01:17:39

Rebuilding Gaza Could Take a Century if Israel Keeps Blockade — Oxfam
Kieran Guilbert / Thomson Reuters Foundation

LONDON (February 26, 2015) — The rebuilding of homes, schools and hospitals in Gaza could take more than a century to complete unless an Israeli blockade restricting imports of construction materials into the Gaza Strip is lifted, aid agency Oxfam said on Thursday.

Gaza needs more than 800,000 truckloads of building materials to repair infrastructure damaged in the 2014 war with Israel, yet less than a quarter of one percent of the materials needed have entered Gaza in the last three months, Oxfam said.

Fifty days of conflict in Gaza between Hamas and Israeli forces in July and August last year killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, and left swathes of ruins in the Mediterranean enclave of 1.8 million Palestinians.

Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip after the Islamist movement Hamas won power there in elections in 2006, and both Egypt and Israel maintain tight controls on the movement of goods and people in and out of the territory.

The longer the blockade continues, the more lives will be at risk, Oxfam regional director Catherine Essoyan said.

“Families have been living in homes without roofs, walls or windows for the past six months. Many have just six hours of electricity a day and are without running water,” Essoyan said in a statement.

Around 100,000 people — more than half of them children — are living in shelters, temporary accommodation or with extended family because their homes were destroyed, Oxfam said.

Thousands more are living in damaged buildings, using plastic sheeting to try to keep out the rain.

Little of the $5.4 billion pledged for Gaza’s reconstruction at a Cairo conference of international donors last October has reached the territory, it added.

Japan contributed $32.2 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on Thursday, of which $14 million will go towards the cash assistance program for repairs and rent subsidies for Palestinian refugees made homeless by last year’s conflict, UNRWA said.

Last month UNRWA said a lack of international funding had forced it to suspend payments to tens of thousands of Palestinians for repairs to homes damaged in the 2014 war.

Japan Commits $ 32.2 Million to Support Palestine Refugees
United Nations Relief and Works Association

JERUSALEM (February 26, 2015) — Japan has announced a new $32.2 million contribution to UNRWA. The donation will support urgent relief and recovery needs in Gaza, emergency assistance for Palestine refugees affected by the conflict in Syria, and the continuation of essential UNRWA services in the occupied Palestinian territory, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

This donation is the largest ever one-time contribution from Japan to UNRWA. Japan’s total annual contribution in 2014 was $28.3 million, a considerable increase from $15.5 million in 2011.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said: “We are extremely grateful for the increased assistance from the Government of Japan, a trusted and valued partner of UNRWA and Palestine refugees. This support, which could not be more timely, is a crucial step towards helping Palestine refugees rebuild in Gaza, survive the extreme hardship resulting from the Syria crisis and access their basic needs elsewhere in our area of operations. It is an important contribution to dignity, human security and the hope for peace in this volatile region.”

$14 million of the Japanese contribution will go towards the UNRWA cash assistance program supporting repairs and rental subsidies for Palestine refugees rendered homeless by last summer’s conflict in Gaza — a program that UNRWA was forced to suspend last month due to lack of funds.

Gaza and Japan have built a close relationship in recent years, with Palestinians in Gaza holding a solidarity event to commemorate the Japanese Tsunami Disaster area every March. The event is planned again this year despite the devastation left by the recent hostilities.

Junya Matsuura, Ambassador for Palestinian Affairs and Representative of Japan to the Palestinian Authority, said: “Assistance to Palestine refugees through UNRWA has been always one of the pillars of Japan’s peace efforts in the region.

Palestine refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria need international assistance more than ever, especially in Gaza and Syria to face the severe political and economic situations surrounding them. Japan will continue its efforts in helping UNRWA mitigate the suffering of the Palestinian people, including women and children.”

$18 million of the contribution will support general and emergency health services in the occupied Palestinian territory, Lebanon and Syria, and education in Lebanon. UNRWA is the sole agency responsible for essential services for Palestine refugees, meaning the support from Japan will have a direct positive impact on the well-being of some of the most vulnerable people in the Middle East.

A further $200,000 will help Palestine refugees affected by the conflict in Syria survive the harsh winter conditions through the provision of blankets and mattresses in Syria and emergency cash assistance for the most vulnerable of those displaced to Lebanon and Jordan.

Background Information
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees.

Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty.

As a result, the Agency’s General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 percent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at $81 million.

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