Rebuilding Gaza could cost billions

By Richard High23 January 2009

Reconstruction of Gaza following the conflict with Israel could "cost billions", according to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

While an initial report, quoted in local daily The Jordan Times, said about US$ 330 million was needed following the UNRWA's first assessment of damage, UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs Sir John Holmes said overall reconstruction costs could run into billions of dollars.

Sir John said some neighbourhoods in Gaza had been almost totally destroyed and many homes reduced to rubble. A total of 50 UN facilities and 21 medical facilities had also been damaged, he added.

A statement by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said 4100 homes had been destroyed and 17000 others damaged during the conflict.

It added that about 1500 factories and workshops, 20 mosques, 31 security installations and 10 water or sewage pipes had also been damaged.

The PCBS estimated infrastructure damage during Israel's bombardment amounted to US$ 200 million.

Reconstruction aid

Much of the rebuilding costs could be met by the League of Arab States. Following the inaugural meeting of the Arab Economic, Social and Development Summit in Kuwait on 19 to 20 January, which was attended by all 22 members - Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia, Kuwait, Algeria, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Mauritania, Somalia, Palestine, Djibouti and Comoros - a new US$ 2 billion Arab Development Fund was inaugurated to boost small and medium sized business in the territory, and aid physical reconstruction efforts.

The League's secretary general Amr Moussa called on the World Bank and the Arab Development Bank to make an assessment of the real damages and losses in Gaza.

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