Saturday, 13 September 2014

Blockaded Gaza faces huge challenges to rebuild after war

Fifty days of war in one of the most densely populated parts of the world have left swathes of Gaza in ruins. With the economy reeling under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, the enclave now faces an almost impossible task of rebuilding.

To do it, Gaza will have to find billions of foreign dollars, contend with Israeli limits on construction materials entering the territory, resolve internal political strife and keep aid flowing to the battered population as it rebuilds.

One fact stands out: before the war, an average of 30 tons of cement crossed into Gaza each week. Now, an estimated 10,000 tons will be needed every day for the next six months.

In Shejaia, a town near the border hit by heavy Israeli shelling in the war, many homes and factories lie in ruins amid mounds of broken bricks and rubbish festering in the heat.

"Some of the areas here in Gaza, unbelievably enough, look as if they were hit by an earthquake," said Borge Brende, the foreign minister of Norway, who visited the area this week to try to assess the humanitarian and reconstruction needs.

The Palestinian Authority said in a study last week the work would cost $7.8 billion, two and a half times Gaza's gross domestic product, including $2.5 billion for the reconstruction of homes and $250 million for energy.

Gaza economist Maher al-Tabbaa puts rebuilding costs at a lower $5 billion. Either way, international donors meeting in Cairo on Oct. 12 for a rebuilding conference - including the EU, Turkey and Qatar - know one thing: it will be expensive. more


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