Gaza will 'take years' to be made safe again, warns UNRWA

Gaza will 'take years' to be made safe again, warns UNRWA

The United Nations agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) on Friday warned that it will “take years” before the Gaza Strip is made safe again.

It says Israeli attacks have left almost 23 millions tonnes of rubble and unexploded weapons scattered across the enclave, which will continue to pose a threat well into the future.

The UN aid coordination office (OCHA) says mine action partners are now “carrying out assessments of explosive threats” and educating Gazans about the dangers.

It adds, however, that “response efforts have been hampered by restrictions on the import of humanitarian mine action supplies and authorisation requirements for the deployment of specialised personnel."

The UN says the current Israeli military operation in Gaza has not only resulted in an unprecedented death toll and displaced over 1.5 million people, but has also seen extensive destruction of infrastructure.

As Israel continues it relentless bombardment of the Palestinian enclave, its estimated from satellite images that over 150,000 buildings and homes have been damaged and destroyed.

That is believed to add up to more than half of all structures in the 365 kilometre square area, home to 2.3 million people.

Across Gaza, residential areas have been left in ruins, schools and universities have been destroyed, roads rendered impassable, and water and other essential services are no longer functioning.

The UN says economic activity in the enclave, across all sectors, has ground to a halt, except for the minimum health and food services, and that the impact on household welfare is immeasurable.

Making matters worse much of the damage resulting from the numerous previous Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip remain unrepaired.

But it is not only buildings, hospitals, schools, roads, and other infrastructure that have been impacted.

The war has destroyed families and their livelihoods, left thousands with life-changing injuries, and seen sprawling tent cities spring up, notably around the southern city of Rafah where many have fled.

Aid agencies have also warned of the severe impact that the war is having on both the physical and mental health of Palestinians.

As Israel faces increasing pressure to allow more aid into the enclave, the United Nations estimates that over half a million Gazans are facing starvation.

At the same time, an estimated 17,000 Palestinian children are now unaccompanied or have been separated from their parents.

The UN children’s agency (UNICEF) says malnutrition among children is spreading fast and quickly reaching devastating and unprecedented levels.

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has repeatedly spoken of the need for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza and recently reiterated his call to the warring parties to halt the war.