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Rebuilding bombed Gaza homes may take 80 years, UN says

REBUILDING homes in the Gaza Strip could drag into the next century if the pace follows the trend of previous conflicts, according to a U.N. report released.

Nearly seven months of Israeli bombardment have caused billions of dollars in damage, leaving many of the crowded strip’s high-rise concrete buildings reduced to heaps, with a U.N. official referring to a “moonscape” of destruction.

Palestinian data shows that around 80,000 homes have been destroyed in a conflict triggered by Hamas fighters’ deadly attacks on southern Israel on Oct. 7. Israeli strikes have killed tens of thousands of Palestinians.

The assessment, released by the U.N. Development Programme, said Gaza needs “approximately 80 years to restore all the fully destroyed housing units”.

However, in a best-case scenario in which construction materials are delivered five times as fast as in the last crisis in 2021, it could be done by 2040, the report said.

The UNDP assessment makes a series of projections on the war’s socioeconomic impact based on the duration of the current conflict, projecting decades of ongoing suffering.

“Unprecedented levels of human losses, capital destruction, and the steep rise in poverty in such a short period of time will precipitate a serious development crisis that jeopardises the future of generations to come,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner in a statement.

In a scenario where the war lasts nine months, poverty is set to increase from 38.8% of Gaza’s population at the end of 2023 to 60.7%, dragging a large portion of the middle class below the poverty line, the report said.

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By Manfred Zwecker

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