UNRWA: Gaza needs over two decades to recover, rebuild

Amman, June 10 (Petra) — Reconstruction and recovery from the ongoing Israeli war on the Gaza Strip needs more than 20 years due to the massive scale of destruction, said United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugee (UNRWA).

Spokesman Jonathan Fowler said in an interview Monday that reconstruction will be a formidable task, especially rebuilding the education system, receiving children and securing their return to schools, and reconstruction of damaged clinics, according to the refugee agency’s website.

He pointed to the wide scale devastation, mounds and piles of rubble and debris,people living in the rubble, and locations filled with bombs and unexploded ordnance.

UNRWA paid an extraordinary price as a result of the war and lost 192 of its staff since October 7, 2023, a figure not seen since the United Nations was established in 1945, Fowler said.

He said about 170 UNRWA facilities in Gaza were bombed and sustained damage to varying degrees, adding that schools suffered the severest damage as education ceased from day one of the war and schools were turned into emergency sanctuaries for refugees fleeing the bombing and seeking safety under the UN flag.

Fowler said about 450 people have been killed and more than 1,400 injured in Israeli strikes on UNRWA facilities or nearby since the war began.

He pointed to deliberate Israeli targeting of UNRWA facilities, pointed to “a pattern of disregard for the UN flag and its locations,” and adding there is no ambiguity about the refugee agency’s presence, yet “we saw direct strikes on our buildings.”

Fowler pledged that UNRWA will continue its operations in Gaza despite Israeli calls for replacing it with other UN agencies, adding the refugee agency had been mandated by the United Nations General Assembly with “a very specific mission.”

UNRWA was established under a UN General Assembly resolution in 1949 with a mandate to provide aid and protection to Palestinian refugees in its five areas of operations, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

10/06/2024 15:54:54