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World not delivering on Gaza reconstruction promises

The international community must urgently change its approach to Gaza and deliver on promises of reconstruction, a coalition of 46 aid agencies says today. Six months since donors at the Cairo Conference on Palestine pledged $3.5 billion towards Gaza’s recovery there has been little progress, many people are worse off and not a single one of the 19,000 destroyed homes has been rebuilt. 100,000 people are still homeless and many are living in makeshift camps or schools.

The report, “Charting a New Course: Overcoming the stalemate in Gaza,” warns that further conflict is inevitable – and with it the cycle of destruction and donor-funded reconstruction – unless world leaders implement a new approach that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict. Donors must insist on a permanent ceasefire, accountability of all parties for ongoing violations of international law, and an end to the Israeli blockade that seals in 1.8 million Palestinians inside Gaza and keeps them separated from the West Bank. Rather than challenging the blockade, the report found that most donors are accepting ways to work around it.

Vanessa Rice, Acting International Director of Oxfam GB, said: “The promising speeches at the donor conference have so far proved to be empty words. There has been little rebuilding, no permanent ceasefire agreement and no plan to end the blockade. By accepting the status quo which the donors themselves said must change, the international community is walking with its eyes wide open into the next avoidable conflict.”

William Bell of Christian Aid said: “We must ensure that this most recent and most devastating conflict was the last one. There must be consequences for continued violations. By facilitating a culture of impunity, the international community is committing itself to indefinitely picking up the pieces.”

Only 26.8 percent of money pledged by donors six months ago has been released so far. Even when funded, many reconstruction projects have not yet begun due to restrictions on essential material under the blockade. Most of the 81 health clinics and hospitals that were damaged still lack funds for reconstruction, but the few that have funds do not have the material needed to proceed. Recently, donors have managed to achieve some small increase in the flow of construction material, but not enough to meet needs and its impact is extremely limited while the blockade remains in place

Tony Laurance, CEO of MAP UK, said: “The world is shutting its eyes and ears to the people of Gaza when they need it most. Reconstruction cannot happen without funds, but money alone will not be enough. With the blockade in place we are just reconstructing a life of misery, poverty and despair.”

Since the temporary ceasefire, violence against civilians has continued with more than 400 incidents of Israeli fire into Gaza and four rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. The report calls on all parties to immediately resume long-term ceasefire negotiations. It calls on Israel to end its blockade and policy of separating Gaza from the West Bank, and for Palestinian political actors to reconcile and prioritise reconstruction. It also calls on Egypt to open its border to allow humanitarian relief.

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