Gaza Devastation Greatest Since World War II Say UN

3 mins

The UN assessment says reconstruction of war-torn Gaza could take at least until 2040 and cost US$50 billion

The destruction of Gaza’s housing stock represents the greatest level of devastation since the Second World War, according to United Nations observers.

And even if the conflict ended today (Friday May 3rd) it would take until 2040 to restore all properties, says the assessment.

At least 370,000 housing units in Gaza have been damaged, including 79,000 destroyed completely, the report said, along with a huge number of commercial buildings.

It called the level of casualties – five per cent of Gaza’s 2.3 million population — unprecedented in such a short time.

By mid-April, the UN said, over 33,000 Palestinians had been killed and more than 80,000 injured by Israeli attacks. Approximately 10,000 others remain missing, most believed to be buried under the rubble.

Gaza demolished

‘Every additional day that this war continues is exacting huge and compounding costs to Gazans and all Palestinians’ said United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner.

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.’

The report by UNDP and the UN Economic Commission for Western Asia paints a dire picture of the struggle to survive in Gaza where 201,000 jobs have been lost since the war began and the economy contracted 81 per cent in the last quarter of 2023.

Almost $50 billion in investments in Gaza are estimated to have been wiped out in the conflict, and 1.8 million Palestinians have currently fallen into poverty.

Projections in the assessment paint a bleak picture for a prolonged conflict, stating if the war were to continue for nine months, poverty levels could more than double to 60.7 per cent, with an additional 1.86 million people falling into poverty. The GDP would further decline by 29 per cent, equating to total losses of $7.6 billion.

It also warned of sharp decline in the Human Development Index (HDI), UNDP’s summary measure of wellbeing. In that scenario, the HDI for Palestine could fall to 0.647, setting back progress by more than 20 years.

people walk through war torn Gaza
Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli airstrike on the El-Remal aera in Gaza City. Phot Naaman Omar apaimages

To put that figure into context the UAE’s HDI rating is 0.911, rating it 26th in the world.

Abdallah Al Dardari, UNDP’s regional director for Arab states, told a press conference launching the report that almost $50 billion in investments in Gaza are estimated to have been wiped out in the conflict, and 1.8 million Palestinians have currently fallen into poverty.

‘We haven’t seen anything like this since 1945, since the Second World War — that intensity in such a short time, and the massive scale of destruction,’ he said.

Reporters heard how Gaza has been under blockade by both Israel and Egypt since Hamas’ 2007 takeover, putting tight controls on what enters and exits the territory.

Even before the current war, it faced ‘hyper-unemployment’ of 45 per cent, reaching nearly 63 per cent among younger workers.

However, on an optimistic note, Al Dardari said the UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag, and other officials met this week and went through plans for the initial years after the war ends.

‘We are on the verge of developing and finalising a unified view and early recovery framework that is Palestinian-centered, Palestinian-led and owned by the Palestinian people,’ he said.

Newsletter signup