UNRWA Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl, says that the reconstruction process of Gaza may take over a decade, if the current blockade on the Gaza Strip is not lifted. According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, Kraehenbuel declared, during a two-day official visit to Switzerland, that the blockade on Gaza ‘must be lifted’.

“I would like to thank the government and people of Switzerland for their generous and unwavering support to UNRWA and the refugees we serve. The recent fighting in Gaza and the UNRWA response demonstrated once more how vital our services have become,” he said.

“As the discussions intensify about the reconstruction of Gaza, it is becoming clear that UNRWA will be central to that effort. But we have to remember that Swiss funds are supporting our services beyond Gaza, across the Middle East in war-torn Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the West Bank.’

Mr. Krähenbühl announced that at least 20,000 homes were destroyed during the recent Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, and that there had been widespread destruction of public infrastructure.

He states that it was “an imperative for the international community and for the people of Gaza to reconstruct after the devastation”, which was unprecedented in recent history:

“I visited Gaza three times during the recent conflict and the impact of the fighting on individual human lives, particularly the young, is palpable and profound. Hundreds of thousands of children are deep in trauma. We estimate that of one thousand injured children out of three thousands will suffer permanent disabilities.”

Krähenbühl noted that several hundred UNRWA counselors are working to restore a sense of normality to the region. ‘UNRWA will do all it can to restore human dignity to a community that has suffered enough,” he said.

He also expressed his concern for “more than 50,000 people” who are still living in Gaza’s UNRWA schools due to the fact that their homes had been destroyed:

“We need to do all we can to find alternative accommodation for these people, as we are determined to begin our delayed school year on 14 September… It will be a challenge.’

See also: 8/10/14 Gazans Again Fleeing to UN Schools as Israeli Strikes Resume

9/2/14 Homeless Gazans Need 5,000 Caravans