Thursday, February 5, 2009

600k tons of rubble threatening Gaza

The 23-day Israeli military operations in Gaza have left tons of concrete rubble, mixed with poisonous materials and unexploded ordnances.

An initial United Nations survey reveals that the complete or partial destruction of over 14,000 homes as well as 68 government and 31 non-governmental organizations has resulted in 600,000 tons of concrete rubble.

"This is a top priority," said Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, the UN Development Program special representative in the occupied Palestinian territories. "The rubble is mixed with poisonous harmful materials and may include unexploded ordnances."

"It needs to be urgently removed to protect the lives of Palestinians in Gaza and to facilitate immediate access to basic humanitarian and social services," he said.

Rubble removal was included in the UN Flash Appeal, launched on Monday. Once funding is secured, the UNDP will clear rubble, demolish and clean-up the sites of damaged buildings, and identify and remove unexploded ordnances.

The UN Flash Appeal outlines the needs arising from the recent fighting in Gaza and requests urgent funds to allow the UN and its partners to restore basic social services and public utilities such as water, health, education, food and emergency repairs of critical infrastructure.

Over 1,300 Gazans -- mostly women and children -- were killed during Operation Cast Lead which was launched on December 27. At least 5,450 others were wounded in the offensive. The fighting stopped on January 18 after both sides declared separate ceasefires.


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