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U.N. begins assessing Gaza needs

Jan. 19, 2009 at 5:06 PM   |   Comments

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The United Nations estimates the overall bill to provide aid to Palestinians living in Gaza could top $1 billion, senior U.N. officials said Monday.

The non-government organization began assessing the damage and relief needs on the first full day of a cease-fire reached between Israel and Hamas militants ending the three-week Israeli military operation, the United Nations said in a news release issued from New York.

"The pervasive sense here among the population is one of overwhelming grief, so many families have been destroyed in so many ways," John Ging, Gaza director of operations of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said via a video link news conference.

John Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said in New York he intended to visit Gaza in the next few days.

He said all the main border crossings were open Monday, and infrastructure repairs allowed 100,000 more people to receive water. Another 400,000 were without water and sewage was still flooding the streets in some areas.

Holmes said an appeal for funds would begin within 10 days.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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