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UN official: Gaza looks like it was hit by a 'tsunami'

Sept. 12, 2014 1:22 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 13, 2014 8:45 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A UN official visiting the Gaza Strip to assess the humanitarian crisis more than two weeks after the end of a more than 50-day Israeli offensive on Thursday compared the scale of the damage to a "tsunami."

Hania Dakkak, a technical adviser of the United Nations Population Fund, said in a statement that in many areas across the tiny coastal enclave, "it looks like a tsunami has hit" due to the extent of the destruction.

Dakkak said that Gaza will need fifteen years of reconstruction before life will be able to return to normal, especially with regard to the psychological trauma experienced by the Strip's 1.8 million inhabitants.

"In any area of conflict, a minimum of 10 percent of the population ends up with psychological problems that require long term treatment and follow up," Dakkak added.

In addition to rehabilitating a number of health centers that were destroyed during the latest Israeli offensive, the UNFPA has already implemented a number of projects that provide reproductive health services, psychosocial support to women and children, and distributed humanitarian assistance to families in shelters.

The UN said in late August that at least 373,000 children in Gaza will need intense and specialized psychological support in the wake of the seven-week war, while the rest of the population would need general counseling to deal with the trauma.

During her visit, Dakkak also visited a shelter at the Kingdom of Bahrain Boys Preparatory School in Tel al-Hawa neighborhood in southwestern Gaza City to meet with local displaced people.

She met with a doctor on site who briefed them on the situation of women and the main problems facing them including violence-related issues as well as the feeling of lack of stability and security.

Around 110,000 Palestinians were made homeless by Israel's offensive over summer, and more than 60,000 are still living in UN-designated shelters for the displaced as they wait for Israel to allow reconstruction materials to rebuild their homes to enter the Strip.
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