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Gaza needs more than money

10 October 2014 - Christian Aid urges governments pledging to fund the reconstruction of Gaza also engage politically to help break the existing cycle of blockade, conflict and destruction.

Palestinian officials say the cost of reconstruction following the most recent Israeli military campaign - the longest, deadliest and most destructive to hit Gaza - will top $5billion.  

At a donor’s conference in Cairo on Sunday they will call on governments worldwide for money to restore buildings, water systems and other infrastructure for the Strip’s 1.8 million inhabitants.

It will be the third such appeal in the past five years, although this time the task is far greater, with some 18,000 homes destroyed in the recent conflict, and more than 60 hospitals and clinics damaged.

Christian Aid Policy and Advocacy Officer William Bell said today: “Christian Aid calls on all countries attending the donor conference to appreciate fully the gravity of the situation facing the people of Gaza.

“While generous funding pledges are hugely important for urgent humanitarian relief and starting reconstruction, political will and support for an end to the status quo will be critical in preventing a continuation of the cycle of construction / destruction.

“Without an end to the blockade and an opportunity for the private sector to invest in Gaza, then the aid dependency and despair that persist now will condemn generations to a future without hope.”

Recurring Israeli incursions and aerial bombardments, along with Israel’s blockade of the Strip and internal Palestinian conflict, have all contributed to the fact that 75 per cent of Gaza’s population is now reliant on humanitarian aid for survival.

Mr Bell, who has just returned last week from Gaza, continued: “Many of the people we met pleaded for the international community not just to pledge more money, but to press Israel to allow the unfettered flow of imports and exports in order for communities to help themselves, both physically and mentally.”

Israel has restricted the movement of goods into the Strip for many years, with the 7 year blockade today including severe restrictions on the import of building materials.

At the current rate of entry for construction materials, it’s estimated it would take 18 years to import the materials needed for constructing the 89,000 homes the UN estimates are needed to adequately house the Gaza population.

Mr Bell added: “Any scheme to facilitate the entry of building materials must be based on the humanitarian needs of the people and considered as an urgent priority, not least as winter approaches and at least 108,000 Gazans are currently homeless.”

The recent conflict cost Gaza’s agricultural and fisheries sectors more than $100m (£61m), according to a report published last month by the UN Refugee and Works Agency. This means thousands of families have lost their means of income.

Food insecurity levels were already at 57 per cent before the hostilities, said the report, and are now even higher.

Christian Aid local partners are providing medical aid, clean water and food, as well as essentials such as cooking equipment, to families made homeless, along with psychosocial support to children and young people.

They are also helping farmers rehabilitate land, and rebuild animal shelters, greenhouses and agricultural roads, as well as repair the water and irrigation networks.

To find out more about our appeal or to donate, please visit the Christian Aid website. Or text HELP to 70007 to give £5.

If you would like further information, photos or to arrange an interview with William Bell please contact Jo Rogers on 020 7523 2460 orour press duty phone – 07850 242950


Notes to editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended:  this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.  Further details at http://actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

 

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