Gaza reconstruction faces lack of funds: Officials

AFP , Wednesday 13 Apr 2016

File Photo: Palestinian boys attend Friday prayers as they sit at the remains of a house that witnesses said was destroyed by Israeli 50-day shelling last summer, in the Shejaia neighbourhood east of Gaza City January 23, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Palestinian and international officials warned Wednesday of a potential slowdown in the reconstruction of Gaza, with only 40 percent of the money pledged after a 2014 war with Israel delivered.

Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah said they were able to repair more than 100,000 partially damaged homes, while giving compensation to businesses damaged in Israel's offensive on the coastal enclave.

But he warned that funding was drying up.

"We call upon you to honour your obligations and effectively contribute to saving Gaza," he told a conference of donors, United Nations officials and others in the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

In October 2014, following the destructive 50-day Israeli offensive on Gaza, international donors pledged $3.5 billion to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

But funding has been slow, with only around 40 percent of the money delivered, according to Palestinian officials, who cited World Bank figures.

Gaza remains under a 10-year-old Israeli blockade, which limits the import and export of goods and restricts many basic materials, such as wood and concrete.

Israel fears such material will be used for militant purposes.

The frayed relationship between the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, and the Islamist movement Hamas, which runs Gaza, has also impeded reconstruction.

The UN's special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, said "reconstruction is progressing and it is progressing because of the excellent efforts of both the government of Palestine and international community".

"But the difficulties in Gaza remain."

Bashir Rayyes, the Palestinian Authority's coordinator for Gaza reconstruction, said reconstruction was suffering from shortages.

"The big part of the third (of funds delivered) went to humanitarian assistance and feeding people and what have you. So, what we really have for the Gaza reconstruction is less than $400 million, way less than $400 million, and that in itself is a very big problem."

"(The $400 million) only brings Gaza back to its previous misery in 2014, but that's not enough."

He said at the current rate, the reconstruction efforts could continue until as late as 2020.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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