“Impossible” to rebuild Gaza quickly, says top UN official

A new project by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) aims to build around 120 mud brick houses for dozens of homeless families in the next few months
A new project by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) aims to build around 120 mud brick houses for dozens of homeless families in the next few months (Suhair Karam/IRIN)

UN agencies have calculated that the Gaza Strip needs about 86,000 new housing units, mostly because of population growth but also to replace the thousands of homes destroyed or damaged as a result of Israeli military operations.



“It would require the entry of over 660,000 truckloads of construction materials into Gaza in order to build these units,” Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Jerusalem, told IRIN, pointing out that it would be “impossible” to rebuild Gaza “in a timely manner”.



Lazzarini said Israel's proposed allowances through the two main Gaza-Israel border crossings (Kerem Shalom and Karni) of 1,500 and 360 truckloads per week respectively were not sufficient to get materials in quickly enough. Karni has a much higher capacity but is being restricted.



The UN has about US$165 million-worth of stalled projects, and plans for about $885 million-worth of new projects. “Of the 31 projects that were recently approved, 11 are for the UN [UN agency for Palestinian refugees] and are valued at $15 million. So these new projects equate to 1.4 percent of the planned UN programme of work in Gaza,” said Lazzarini.



The Israeli cabinet recently increased the amount of goods allowed to enter Gaza, and approved some UN-supervised construction projects.



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