UN peace envoy chides world over lack of Gaza aid
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UN peace envoy chides world over lack of Gaza aid

Robert Serry says only a small percentage of $5.4 billion pledged for reconstruction of Strip was delivered

Illustrative photo of a Palestinian man sweeping an area damaged by an explosion in the northern Gaza Strip. (photo credit: AFP/Roberto Schmidt)
Illustrative photo of a Palestinian man sweeping an area damaged by an explosion in the northern Gaza Strip. (photo credit: AFP/Roberto Schmidt)

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

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

Israel said up to half the Gazans killed were combatants and claimed it was forced to target residential areas because of Hamas military infrastructure located there.

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 [with Egypt] practically closed,” Serry said in a statement.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)

“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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