Ireland pledges extra €2.5 million to Gaza reconstruction
International donors meet in Cairo for Gaza aid conference
A Palestinian woman sits outside her house that witnesses said was destroyed during the seven-week Israeli offensive in the southern of Gaza Strip. Photograph: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
The Irish Government has announced it will donate an additional €2.5 million in funding to Gaza, following the 50-day Israel-Hamas war this summer .
Speaking at an international donors’ conference on the reconstruction of Gaza today in Cairo, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, said Ireland would provide an additional €2.5 million towards “both urgent immediate needs as well as long term recovery efforts” in Gaza.
“The humanitarian situation in Gaza remains dire and it is clear that significant resources will be required to meet both immediate needs and longer term recovery assistance and reconstruction,” said Mr Flanagan.
He called on international donors at the Cairo conference to “ commit themselves genuinely to this process and to avoid all actions which might impede the prospects for peace. ”
Ireland initially pledged €500,000 to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) emergency appeal in July.
The Irish government has now pledged an extra €500,000 to the UNRWA for immediate humanitarian support, while €2 million will be provided to the Palestinian Authority and UN partners for long-term recovery assistance.
Participants attending today’s conference, opened by Egyptian leader Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi this morning, are expected to pledge hundreds of millions of dollars to reconstruction and relief efforts in Gaza.
Egypt’s government negotiated a ceasefire that ended the fighting on August 27th.
In his address, Mr Sissi said the reconstruction of Gaza hinged on a “permanent calm” between Hamas and Israel.
He said it also required the exercise of “full authority” by the Palestinian Authority, led by Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas.
The latest Hamas-Israel conflict was the most ruinous of three wars between Hamas and Israel since 2008, leaving more than 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead. Another 10,000 were wounded, and some 100,000 people remain homeless.
Senior US officials have voiced doubts that this weekend’s donor conference will meet the Palestinians’ full request for $4 billion in aid pledges to rebuild the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Authority is hoping that moves by a new unity government toward assuming control in Hamas-dominated Gaza could make wealthy donor governments less wary of providing reconstruction funds.
But it remains unclear how generous they will be, given the lack of progress toward resolving the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the risk that hostilities could erupt again, destroying whatever has been rebuilt.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah has put the full cost of reconstruction at about $4 billion over three years in Gaza, where an estimated 18,000 homes were destroyed and infrastructure was badly battered during the seven-week war.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is attending this weekend’s conference and who led an intensive peace effort that collapsed in April, will also use the conference to re-commit Washington to a two-state solution and keep the door open to negotiations, officials said. But they offered no specifics, and the chances for restarting the peace process soon appear dim.
While Gaza remains hemmed in by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, Israel agreed to take steps to ease some restrictions on the coastal strip under a ceasefire deal in late August.
Reconstruction will be the focus of the conference in Cairo, co-sponsored by Egypt and Norway in cooperation with the United Nations, European Union and Arab League. Washington announced $118 million in humanitarian assistance for Gaza in September, and Saudi Arabia has also pledged funds.
Additional reporting from agencies