UNRWA to seek $1.6 billion for Gaza aid
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UNRWA to seek $1.6 billion for Gaza aid

Refugee agency calls task ‘unprecedented,’ vows to prioritize rebuilding housing, UN facilities and healthcare

A Palestinian woman takes some of her belongings from her partially destroyed home across the street from where a high rise apartment building, that Israel said was used as a Hamas command center in Gaza City, was targeted by Israeli air strikes overnight on August 26, 2014.  (photo credit: AFP/ROBERTO SCHMIDT)
A Palestinian woman takes some of her belongings from her partially destroyed home across the street from where a high rise apartment building, that Israel said was used as a Hamas command center in Gaza City, was targeted by Israeli air strikes overnight on August 26, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/ROBERTO SCHMIDT)

The UN’s Palestinian refugee agency is to make its largest ever financial plea to donors, it said on Thursday, asking for $1.6 billion to rehabilitate war-battered Gaza.

“This is the largest single task in UNRWA’s 64-year history,” spokesman Christopher Gunness told AFP ahead of an October 12 donors’ conference in Cairo.

“The figure we are requesting at Cairo is $1.6 billion, which makes this… unprecedented,” he said, adding nearly half of that would go towards rebuilding homes damaged during 50 days of war in July and August.

The war left more than 2,140 Palestinians, most of them civilians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, and 72 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers. Israel says some 1,000 of the Gaza dead were gunmen, and that Hamas was to blame for all civilian deaths, having used Gazans as human shields for rocket fire and other elements of its war machine.

The fighting also destroyed tens of thousands of houses, as well as key infrastructure, and left some 100,000 Gazans homeless.

UNRWA outlined its post-war emergency plan in 15-page document, a copy of which was seen by AFP.

It pledged to prioritize reconstruction of housing, UNRWA facilities — some of which were shelled during the war — and healthcare, including providing clean drinking water.

The Cairo conference will be attended by the United States, the European Union, Arab countries and various monetary and humanitarian organizations.

The Palestinian government has already asked for more than $4 billion to rebuild the coastal territory, which is home to some 1.7 million people.

The international community has urged Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza to allow in building material for reconstruction, warning that if current restrictions stay in place, the task will be almost impossible.

Israel is concerned that steel and concrete could be used by terrorists to make weapons and attack tunnels.

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