UNRWA to make biggest ever financial aid plea on Gaza

UNRWA is asking for $1.6 billion to rehabilitate war-battered Gaza

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The United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency is to make its largest ever financial plea to donors, it said on Thursday, asking for $1.6 billion (1.26 billion euros) to rehabilitate war-battered Gaza.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas-led Gaza militants, which ended on August 26, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 people on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

“This is the largest single ask in UNRWA’s 64-year history,” spokesman Christopher Gunness told AFP ahead of an October 12 donors’ conference in Cairo.

“The figure we are requesting at Cairo is $1.6 billion, which makes this... unprecedented,” he said, adding nearly half of that would go towards rebuilding homes damaged during 50 days of war in July and August.

It destroyed tens of thousands of houses, as well as key infrastructure, and left some 100,000 Gazans homeless.

UNRWA outlined its post-war emergency plan in 15-page document, a copy of which was seen by AFP.

It pledged to prioritize reconstruction of housing, UNRWA facilities -- some of which were shelled during the war -- and healthcare, including providing clean drinking water.

The Cairo conference will be attended by the United States, the European Union, Arab countries and various monetary and humanitarian organizations.

The Palestinian government has already asked for more than $4 billion to rebuild the coastal territory, which is home to some 1.7 million people.

The international community has urged Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza to allow in building material for reconstruction, warning that if current restrictions stay in place, the task will be almost impossible.

Israel is concerned that steel and concrete could be used by militants to make weapons and attack tunnels.

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