TEHRAN, Iran — United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said Sunday on a visit to Iran that it will take months to repair damage to the UN’s infrastructure caused by the recent fighting in the Gaza Strip.
“Damage to hospitals, schools and UNRWA shelters where people displaced sought refuge will take months to rebuild,” she said, referring to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees.
Amos was speaking to reporters at the start of a two-day visit for talks with Iranian officials on the humanitarian crises wreaked by conflicts in the Gaza Strip, Syria and Iraq.
“The UN response continues including deliveries of food, water and households goods. Medicines and fuel are being delivered to hospitals,” she said.
A total of 97 UNRWA installations, including health and food distribution centers as well as schools, have been damaged in the war since July 8 between Israel and the Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip.
Almost 2,000 people have been killed in Gaza during the fighting that began on July 8. Israel says 750-1,000 of the dead are Hamas and other gunmen. It also blames Hamas for all civilian fatalities, since Hamas set up its rocket-launchers, tunnel openings and other elements of its war machine in Gaza neighborhoods and uses Gazans as “human shields.” Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians in the fighting. Eleven of the soldiers were killed by Hamas gunmen emerging from cross-border tunnels dug under the Israeli border. Hamas has fired over 3,000 rockets at Israel, including some 600 from close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities, the Israeli army says.
Amos noted the United Nations had made “strong statements” about “the violation of international humanitarian laws and human rights laws by all parties in Gaza”.
Turning to Syria, she said that 11 million people were in need of humanitarian aid, including 241,000 living in areas under siege.
“Insecurity, fragmentation of armed groups and administrative obstacles imposed by the government hamper the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” she said.
Amos welcomed the role played by Iran, a key ally of the Syrian government, and other countries with influence on the warring parties to gain access to conflict zones.
“This remains a work in progress because we still have substantial numbers of people that we are unable to reach,” she said.
Times of Israel contributed to this report.