UN chief, Arab League Secretary-General urge donors to honour Gaza pledges

CAIRO, 6th February 2015 (WAM) — Expressing deep concern about the situation in Gaza, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil el-Araby made an urgent appeal today, asking donors to honour and disburse as soon as possible the financial commitments they made at an October 2014 conference convened to kick-start reconstruction in the war-torn enclave.

“This support should also include funding for UN agencies that are carrying out vital operations in Gaza, in order to prevent a further deterioration in the already dire humanitarian situation,” said the two Secretaries-General in a joint statement issued by their spokespersons.

“The pace of reconstruction in Gaza remains slow,” continued the statement. “It is crucial now to expand the scope of reconstruction efforts thus far to bring hope to the people of Gaza and ensure stability, based on international responsibility in reconstruction and lifting the siege.” The conference, held on 12 October in the Egyptian capital, saw pledges from some 50 countries amounting to about US$5.4 billion.

The statement also noted progress made so far under the temporary Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, which aims to enable construction and reconstruction work at the large scale now required in the Gaza Strip. So far, the Mechanism has enabled access to construction material for some 55,000 Gazan homeowners in support of shelter repairs.

The mechanism was agreed in the aftermath of last summer’s conflict in the war-ravaged enclave. According to a recent UN assessment, as it stands now, over 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, affecting more than 600,000 people. Many people still lack access to the municipal water network. Blackouts of up to 18 hours per day are common.

The UN says that the operations of the Mechanism are ready to be scaled up to facilitate the swift implementation of major large-scale projects.