Vital building in conflict damaged Gaza to take more than a century at current rate

At current rates it could take more than 100 years to complete essential building of homes, schools and health facilities in Gaza unless the Israeli blockade is lifted, Oxfam warned today as new figures show the amount of vital construction materials entering Gaza dropped last month.

Less that 0.25 percent of the truckloads of essential construction materials needed have entered Gaza in the past three months. Six months since the end of the conflict, the situation in Gaza is becoming increasingly desperate. Oxfam is calling for an urgent end to the blockade of Gaza, which has now been in place for nearly eight years. 
                                                               
Gaza needs more than 800,000 truckloads of construction materials to build homes, schools, health facilities and other infrastructure required after repeated conflicts and years of blockade, according to aid agencies on the ground. Yet, in January only 579 such trucks entered Gaza. This is even less than the 795 trucks that entered the previous month. Around 100,000 people - more than half of them children - are still living in shelters, temporary accommodation or with extended family after their homes were destroyed. Tens of thousands more families are living in badly damaged homes.  
 
Catherine Essoyan, Oxfam's Regional Director, said: "Only an end to the blockade of Gaza will ensure that people can rebuild their lives. Families have been living in homes without roofs, walls or windows for the past six months. Many have just six hours of electricity a day and are without running water. Every day that people are unable to build is putting more lives at risk.  It is utterly deplorable that the international community is once again failing the people of Gaza when they need it most." 

"No progress" in talks

There has been no progress on substantive talks on a long-term solution to the crisis in Gaza, which were supposed to happen after the ceasefire. Oxfam calls on both sides to proactively seek a peaceful resolution, including an end to the Israeli blockade which remains firmly in place and continues to have a devastating impact on people in Gaza. Growing tensions within the Palestinian unity government are also exacerbating the situation in Gaza.

Under the blockade, exports of agricultural produce from Gaza have fallen in the last year to just 2.7 percent of the level before the blockade was imposed. Fishermen are still restricted to an enforced fishing limit of six nautical miles – far short of where most fish are - and farmers are restricted from accessing much of the most fertile farmland. Gaza continues to be separated from the West Bank, and most people are still prevented from leaving. The border with Egypt has also been shut for most of the past two months, preventing thousands of people from travelling. 

As needs grow, Oxfam and partners are providing safe water, food vouchers and healthcare in communities throughout Gaza.

Notes to editors

  • The multi-agency Shelter Cluster and the UN have estimated that Gaza needs around 800,000 truckloads of "ABC" construction materials for housing. "ABCs" are the most essential construction materials - aggregates, steel bars and cement. This figure includes repairs to homes damaged in the recent 2014 conflict, during which more than 16,000 homes were destroyed or made uninhabitable and more than 133,000 homes were damaged; as well as thousands of homes that were destroyed and never rebuilt in previous conflicts, and needs due to the natural growth in Gaza's population during nearly eight years of blockade. In this time the population has grown by more than 300,000 people. In addition, Gaza needs more than 200 new schools, health facilities and other infrastructure. 
     
  • According to figures collected by Oxfam partner PalTrade, and matched by international agencies, in January only 595 trucks of ABC materials entered Gaza, compared to 795 trucks in December 2014 and 287 in November 2014. This means that only 1,661 trucks of ABCs have entered Gaza in the three full months since the international donor conference for rebuilding Gaza in Cairo in October 2014. At this quarterly rate it would take more than 100 years to reach the above total of trucks.
     
  • For more information on the situation in Gaza, see Oxfam's monthly update http://eepurl.com/be18xf

Contact information

Arwa Mhanna in Gaza - amhanna@oxfam.org.uk, +972598910981
Alun McDonald in Jerusalem - alun.mcdonald@oxfamnovib.nl, +972546395002

For updates, please follow @Oxfam.