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$5.4bn pledged for Gaza at Cairo summit

BEIRUT |, with agencies - October 13, 2014, 11h22
290,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in UNRWA shelters at the height of the hostilities; an estimated 500,000 in total according to the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Photo: UNRWA
International donors have pledged 5.4bn USD in assistance for Palestinians in Gaza, a much larger amount than the 4bn USD requested by the Palestinian authority.
At the Gaza Reconstruction conference in Cairo on Sunday international donors pledged $5.4bn in assistance to reconstruct Gaza, a larger amount than anticipated.

The amount was announced on Sunday by Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende. Speaking at a news conference he described this news as “a major breakthrough, a very important signal of solidarity to the Palestinian people in general and not at least to the people that are suffering so badly in Gaza," the BBC reported.

The biggest donors at the conference held by Egypt’s president Sisi, were Qatar, pledging $1bn, the US, UAE and Turkey. According to the Brende, half of the sum will be dedicated to work in Gaza, without specifying how the other half would be used.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged $212mil for the US stating, "the people of Gaza do need our help desperately, not tomorrow, not next week, but they need it now."

Israel was not invited to the conference but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said earlier that any rebuilding efforts would need his government's consent.

"You can't reconstruct Gaza without Israeli participation and without Israeli co-operation," he told news website Ynet ahead of the meeting on Sunday.

"In any case, we will try to be positive about the civil infrastructure and the rehabilitation of civilians."
Speaking at the conference, UNRWA Commisioner General, Pierre Krahenbuhl, appealed for $1.6bn in aid from the international community. This money would be used to continue “emergency work for the huge displaced population recovery and repair of homes, reconstruction of house and improvement of basic infrastructure in the refugee camps,” Chris Gunness, UNRWA spokesman explained.

“1.6 billion USD is the largest single ask in UNRWA's 64 year history. It is unprecedented, reflecting the massive scale of destruction and the profound level of need the beleaguered people of Gaza are experiencing today.” Over 50,000 Palestinians in Gaza were displaced in this year’s hostilities, a larger number than during the fighting in 2008/2009.

“Our plan is the biggest and most ambitious in our history… We need to give Gaza back a sustainable future.” He also called for an end to the blockade to allow Gaza to be able to export in order to be self-sufficient.

Most of the money asked for would be used to rebuild houses and improve the condition in refugee camps.It will also be used to provide emergency relief, including food, transitional shelters, the repairing of schools, health centres and other UNRWA remises (During the hostilities 118 UNRWA installations were damaged) and in reconstruction and infrastructure development.

According to UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunning there are currently about 9,000 families (54,000 people) still living in schools and another 5,000 families who have moved out and are living in other temporary accommodation. He also emphasised the non-physical impact of the year’s hostilities. According to UNRWA’s  latest information, 138 students attending UNRWA schools were killed in the fighting. An additional 814 were injured, 20 lost both parents and 540 lost either a father or mother.
#gaza, #UN, #UNRWA, #Israel, #United_Nations
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