Huppert witnesses how UN is slowly rebuilding Gaza

October 12, 2010 11:49 AM
Julian Huppert in Gaza

Julian at a site where housing used to stand

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has witnessed first-hand villages, homes and factories destroyed by the bombing in Gaza.

And against the backdrop of devastation, he has seen how the United Nations is slowly putting the area back together, building new houses despite a lack of access to conventional building materials.

"I applaud the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in Gaza," he said. "But it's tragic to see the widespread senseless damage here. House and factories destroyed and only slowly being rebuilt."

Julian, who has been on a four day visit to Gaza with a delegation of MPs, drove through a village which had been shelled during the Israeli attack in December 2008, codenamed Operation Cast Lead.

He met John Ging, the United Nations Relief and Workers Agency Director who explained his key issue was getting building materials, particularly cement.

Hamas, the radical Islamist movement in the Palestinian territories, gets its supplies through the smuggling tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt, he explained. Hamas launders money through the tunnels and, with exports not allowed, it has hard to carry out legitimate business, Julian discovered.

At a UN school for refugees, Julian found pupils keen to learn but classes were overcrowded and new school building held up by lack of construction materials.

And the lack of building materials is also slowing down worked on a desperately needed sewage treatment works.

During his visit, Julian met World Health Organisation officials at a large hospital where workers face problems getting supplies because the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah fails to send all that is requested. He also discovered that it is difficult to get training for doctors in specialist areas.

Julian met the director of the community mental health programme in Syad Sarraj who had been arrested and tortured by Arafat and is now secretary of the reconciliation talks between Palestinian rivals, Fatah and Hamas.

"It is essential that Hamas and Fatah end their war of revenge against each other if they are to help the Palestinian people," said Julian. "Good and brave leadership on all sides is needed."

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