Reconstructing Gaza to Take More than 100 years at Current Rate

LONDON, February 26, 2015 (WAFA) – At current rates it could take more than 100 years to complete essential building of homes, schools and health facilities in Gaza unless the Israeli blockade is lifted, Oxfam warned Thursday as new figures show the amount of vital construction materials entering Gaza dropped last month.

In a press release, Oxfam said less than 0.25% of the truckloads of essential construction materials needed have entered Gaza in the past three months.

Oxfam called for an urgent end to the blockade of Gaza, which has now been in place for nearly eight years. It said, six months since the end of the conflict, the situation in Gaza is becoming increasingly desperate.

It said that Gaza needs more than 800,000 truckloads of construction materials, such as aggregates, steel bars and cement to build homes, schools, health facilities and other infrastructure required after repeated conflicts and years of blockade, according to aid agencies on the ground.

In January 2015, only 579 trucks carrying essential material entered Gaza, less than the 795 trucks that entered the previous month.

Around 100,000 people, more than half of them children, are still living in shelters, temporary accommodation or with extended family after their homes were destroyed. Tens of thousands more families are living in badly damaged homes.

Catherine Essoyan, Oxfam’s Regional Director, said: ‘Families have been living in homes without roofs, walls or windows for the past six months. Many have just six hours of electricity a day and are without running water.”

She added, “Only an end to the blockade of Gaza will ensure that people can rebuild their lives. Every day that people are unable to build is putting more lives at risk.  It is utterly deplorable that the international community is once again failing the people of Gaza when they need it most.’

There has been no progress on substantive talks on a long-term solution to the crisis in Gaza, which were supposed to happen after the ceasefire.

Oxfam called on both sides to proactively seek a peaceful resolution, including an end to the Israeli blockade which remains firmly in place and continues to have a devastating impact on people in Gaza. Growing tensions within the Palestinian unity government are also exacerbating the situation in Gaza.

Under the blockade, exports of agricultural produce from Gaza have fallen in the last year to just 2.7% of the level before the blockade was imposed.

It added, fishermen are still restricted to an enforced fishing limit of six nautical miles – far short of where most fish are – and farmers are restricted from accessing much of the most fertile farmland. Gaza continues to be separated from the West Bank, and most people are still prevented from leaving.

The border with Egypt has also been shut for most of the past two months, preventing thousands of people from travelling.