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Rebuilding Gaza: It could take decades and $40 billion, says the UN agency

Rebuilding Gaza: It could take decades and $40 billion, says the UN agency

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Amid escalating anti-Israel protests in the US and parts of Europe, a UN agency said on Thursday that rebuilding war-ravaged Gaza, now burdened with nearly 40 million tons of rubble, could take decades and cost an estimated USD 30 billion to 40 billion, besides requiring a herculean effort on a scale unseen since the Second World War.

“The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s initial estimates for the reconstruction of… the Gaza Strip surpass USD 30 billion and could reach up to USD 40 billion,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General Abdallah al-Dardari, the media reported.

“The scale of the destruction is huge and unprecedented… This is a mission that the global community has not dealt with since the Second World War,” Dardari told a press conference in the Jordanian capital Amman.

If Gaza’s reconstruction were to be carried out through the normal process, “it could take decades, and the Palestinian people do not have the luxury of waiting for decades.

“It is therefore important that we act quickly to re-house people in decent housing and restore their lives to normal — economically, socially, in terms of health and education.”

“This is our top priority, and it must be achieved within the first three years following the cessation of hostilities.”

Dardari estimated the total rubble from bombardment and explosions at 37 million tonnes. “We are talking about a colossal figure, and this figure is increasing every day,” he said. “The latest data indicates that it is already approaching 40 million tonnes.”

The UN official also said “72 percent of all residential buildings have been completely or partially destroyed.”.

“Reconstruction must be planned carefully, efficiently, and with extreme flexibility because we do not know how the war will end,” and what type of post-war governance will be established in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the US armed police arrested over 2,000 anti-Israel demonstrators in different universities. In pre-dawn action, hundreds of policepersons entered the University of California at Las Angeles (UCLA) amid huge pro-Palestinian protests rounded up nearly 200, and dismantled their camps. Several educational institutions blamed outside instigators and agitators for continuing chaos.

In France, the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) has rejected demands by protesters to review its relations with Israeli universities, its interim director Jean Basseres said, prompting some students to say they would start a hunger strike in protest.

The decision on Thursday was made after students at several French universities, including Sciences Po and Sorbonne University, blocked or occupied their institutions to protest against Israel’s war on Gaza, in a replay of similar incidents in the US.

“I refused to set up a working group on our relations with Israeli universities and partner companies,” Basseres told reporters after a town hall meeting with students and staff.

Dozens of students promptly started a sit-in inside the university to protest Basseres’s decision.


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