UNRWA to ask donors for unprecedented $1.6 billion for Gaza

UN, Israel say date to be set for mechanism to monitor building materials to ensure they aren't diverted to Hamas to rebuild infiltration tunnels.

October 10, 2014 17:58
1 minute read.
gaza air strike

A Palestinian man looks through a broken window at the rubble of a mosque, which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, in the central Gaza Strip July 12, 2014. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

The UN Relief and Works Agency plans to ask for an unprecedented $1.6 billion in financial aid to help rebuild Gaza at this Sunday’s donor conference in Cairo.

“One point six billion dollars is the largest single ask in UNRWA’s 64 year history. It’s unprecedented, reflecting the massive scale of destruction and the profound level of need the beleaguered people of Gaza are experiencing today,” UNRWA's spokesman Chris Gunness said.

The Palestinian government plans to ask donor countries for $4 billion to repair the damage from this summer’s Gaza war.

Some 40% of that sum will go to UNRWA, the largest and oldest organization in the strip that cares for Palestinian refugees.

It estimates that in Gaza 80,000 homes overall were damaged or destroyed during the war, of which 20,000 are uninhabitable and another 10,000 sustained major damage, he said.

The urgent priority is to help as many of the 54,000 people who are still living in 18 communal shelters, Gunness said.

Money raised will go to rebuilding homes and fixing homes, he said. At the same time UNRWA hopes to improve living conditions in the refugee camps, Guness. Funds will be used to help families buy food and pay rents for alternative apartments while their homes are under repair, he said.

Schools and health centers will also be rebuilt, he added.

“It is a huge, ambitious, realistic and utterly necessary plan,” Gunness said.

A trilateral agreement between the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the United Nations has been reached to allow necessary building supplies into Gaza for the reconstruction efforts. A mechanism has been agreed on to monitor the material to ensure that it will not be diverted to Hamas to rebuild infiltration tunnels into Israel.

The UN and Israel have said that a date for the mechanism’s implementation will be set soon.

Egypt and Norway are co-hosting the conference. PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah are expected to address the conference.

US Secretary of State John Kerry will be at the conference, as will diplomats from the EU and the Arab League. In September, the US pledge $118 million to rebuild Gaza.

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