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UN peace envoy chides world over lack of Gaza aid

AFP , Monday 2 Mar 2015

UN Middle East peace envoy Robert Serry criticised the international community Monday over the failure to deliver aid promised for reconstructing Gaza, on his final trip to the Palestinian territory.

Israel launched a devastating 50-day war in the besieged coastal enclave last summer which killed more than 2,200 people and left 100,000 Gazans homeless and large swathes of the territory in ruins.

The UN and other agencies have warned failure to rehabilitate Gaza will lead to further conflict in the near future, and urged Israel to lift its eight-year blockade of the Strip.

"Gaza is more isolated than ever, with many restrictions still in place at Israeli crossings for both goods and people and with the Rafah crossing practically closed," Serry said in a statement.

"Only a small percentage of the $5.4 billion pledged at the Cairo reconstruction conference (in October) has actually been disbursed. This is, frankly, unacceptable," he said.

"I urgently call on all stakeholders, including... Palestinian factions, Israel, Egypt, the international community and donors, to change their failed policies and adopt a 'Gaza first' strategy."

More than 100,000 homes remain damaged or destroyed from the war.

Serry, who is to end his term as peace envoy next month, said there was movement towards reconstruction, but that it was too slow.

"To date, over 72,000 people have been cleared to receive construction material... and around 55,000 have actually purchased material to rebuild their homes."

But "many of those who now have access to building material lack the money to buy them or to carry out the works."

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