UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on Wednesday pledged full commitment to support Gaza’s recovery from a month of fighting between Israel and Hamas, calling for efforts to address the root causes of the conflict.
“UNDP welcomes the current ceasefire and expresses its hopes for an agreement which ends hostilities and civilian suffering while also laying a foundation for sustainable peace,” said a statement issued to the press here by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.
“UNDP is supporting the Palestinians to assess immediate needs and chart a path for recovery and human development,” said the statement.
According to the statement, nearly a month of armed conflict has claimed the lives of more than 1,800 Palestinians, including over 400 children. More than one quarter of the population of Gaza has been displaced. An estimated 65,000 people have seen their homes destroyed or severely damaged.
“Living conditions in Gaza were bleak before the current crisis — now they are worse,” Clark said in the statement, adding that instead of being able to move forward, the people of Gaza have been going through a period of “de-development”.
For example, she noted, vast damage has been done to water and sewage systems, the power supply, schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure essential for social and economic sustenance, and human dignity.
Therefore, removing rubble, restoring solid waste systems, rebuilding homes and creating jobs and livelihoods are among UNDP’s immediate priorities, said the UNDP chief.
“We are totally committed to supporting Gaza’s recovery,” Clark added.
The people of Gaza have suffered for too long in a cycle of crisis and despair, she said, noting that “now is the time for transformative change towards the human development the people long for.”
“Such a transformation is within reach, but only with the concerted and sustained support of the international community, and with peace,” she said.
The development agency also joined UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon in his call for the root causes of this conflict to be addressed, including by lifting the blockade which has crippled efforts for human development and economic opportunity since 2007.
“The tragic status quo cannot be sustained,” noted the statement.
Guns fell silent on Tuesday after Israel and Hamas-led Gaza militants accepted a 72-hour ceasefire, which came into effect at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT), putting an end to 29 days of fighting that killed 1,867 Palestinians and 64 Israelis. PNA