Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Al-Dardari to Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt: Gaza Regressed 21 Years in Human Development

Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli raid on a house in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, on Thursday. (Reuters)
Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli raid on a house in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, on Thursday. (Reuters)
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Al-Dardari to Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt: Gaza Regressed 21 Years in Human Development

Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli raid on a house in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, on Thursday. (Reuters)
Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli raid on a house in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, on Thursday. (Reuters)

Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Regional Director for Arab States, Abdullah Al-Dardari, said that numbers published in the media “cannot capture the scale of the catastrophe that the Gaza Strip is witnessing.”
Al-Dardari pointed to the continuation of the Gaza war, the worsening humanitarian crisis, the lack of life requirements, such as energy and clean water, and the interruption of education, in addition to the significant decline in the levels of health service after a number of hospitals went out of service.
In an exclusive interview with Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt from Amman, Al-Dardari echoed the statements of European Union foreign policy official Josep Borrell, who said that the situation in Gaza was “an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.”
“We have never seen this scale of destruction in such a short period of time,” he remarked, adding: “The economic effects of the war on Gaza will remain for a long period of time.”
Al-Dardari noted that more than 60 percent of Gaza’s homes were destroyed so far - homes that have been partially or completely wiped out.
“This damage exceeds the percentage of destruction in any war, whether a civil war, an internal conflict, or a conflict between countries since World War II in this short period,” he told Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt.
Al-Dardari revealed that the Gaza Strip has gone back about 21 years in human development, and lost $50 billion worth of investments in health, education, infrastructure, sanitation, and energy.
“The war destroyed most of the UNDP projects in Gaza,” he said, recalling the Saif al-Quds confrontations that broke out in May 2021, during which 1,700 homes were destroyed in Gaza, of which only 200 were rebuilt.
“These 200 homes were destroyed during the war taking place today,” he underlined, referring to the slow pace of reconstruction programs in the unstable areas.
The UN official estimated the losses of the entire Palestinian economy at about 8 percent of the Palestinian GDP, equivalent to $1.7 billion, out of the Palestinian national product, which amounted to $20 billion.
However, he said: “The loss is not in these figures, but rather in the massive decline in human resources development.”
“The wheel of development will be stalled... especially in light of the talk about the complete cessation of about 90 percent of economic activities in Gaza,” he explained.
The UN official talked about the initial repercussions of the war on the West Bank, pointing to huge economic losses.
“As you know, Palestinian farmers were unable to harvest olives in season, nor to collect their citrus production, as a result of the settlers’ attacks and the bad security situatio,” he stated.
Although Gaza constitutes only 20 percent of the Palestinian GDP, the decline of the Palestinian economy by 8 percent in two months is a significant matter, according to Al-Dardari.
He explained: “Expectations indicate that if the war continues for three months... the impact on the gross domestic product will reach 2.5 percent, one billion dollars for the Palestinian economy as a whole.”
The Human Development Index includes three basic components: The first is the per capita share of national product, the second is the number of years of education, and the third is life expectancy at birth. These components form indicators of health, education, and the economy. In Gaza, the economy suffered a major shock, health was clearly destroyed, as well as education.
In this context, the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations confirmed that Gaza has now almost returned to what was before 2002. He said: “Everything that has been built in Palestinian human development so far has been erased. We must start from that point in 2002, and we do not know how many years it will take us to reach that point.”
Al-Dardari expected poverty rates in Palestine to rise from 1.8 million Palestinians to 2.3 million, i.e. an increase of about 500,000 people.
“This is only in two months... poverty does not usually increase to such large proportions during very short periods,” he remarked.
He indicated that the effects of the war on Gaza exceed a year and a half of the repercussions of the Covid-19 crisis in terms of poverty and unemployment, as the number of unemployed people has increased by about 300,000 people.
According to Al-Dardari, the scale of the economic, developmental and humanitarian catastrophe was never seen in such a short period of time. He said that two million people were currently without homes, hospitals and schools.
“Rebuilding all of that, housing people, and restoring some health and educational services, drinking water and sanitation require time and costs,” the UN official underlined, adding: “I can describe reality as a hotbed of humanitarian explosion, meaning the explosion of all humanitarian problems at the same time.”
Al-Dardari warned that if the war continued for an additional three months, losses incurred by neighboring countries, including Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, would reach 4.5 percent, or about $19 billion.
“This number is large even though these countries are not involved in the war. In Lebanon the situation may be partially different, but countries other than Lebanon are affected by the repercussions of the Gaza war, and to compensate for these losses you will need additional investments and a long time. Estimates indicate that the three countries will lose two to three years in human development,” he affirmed.
Regarding the situation in Lebanon, the UN official noted that a special report will soon be issued, saying that up to this moment, 40,000 olive trees have been burned in southern Lebanon due to phosphorus bombs.
“This constitutes income for thousands of families,” he emphasized.

Al-Dardari concluded that if war continues at the same pace of violence and destruction, the number of poor people will rise to more than half a million in these three countries.
“This war has so far had tangible regional effects, but those can be contained. If the war continues, the consequences will be great and the international community will bear the responsibility of compensating for these losses,” the UN official said.
He added: “We demand an end to the war. There is an opportunity if the war stops now, because its economic effects in the region, although tangible, are still containable. The expansion of time will double these effects.”

 

 

 



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Siddiq al-Mahdi: Sudanese Public Unites on Need to End War

Secretary-General of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum), Siddiq al-Mahdi (Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt)
Secretary-General of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum), Siddiq al-Mahdi (Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt)
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Siddiq al-Mahdi: Sudanese Public Unites on Need to End War

Secretary-General of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum), Siddiq al-Mahdi (Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt)
Secretary-General of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum), Siddiq al-Mahdi (Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt)

Siddiq al-Mahdi, Secretary-General of the Sudanese Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum), stressed the urgent need for humanitarian aid to Sudanese citizens suffering from the ongoing conflict.

In an interview with Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt in Addis Ababa, al-Mahdi criticized the National Congress Party for manipulating its alliance with the military to advance its political goals.

Al-Mahdi said he would only engage in the political process if the party ends its connection with the military and security forces.

He highlighted a growing recognition of the need to end the war, noting a shift away from military solutions as a positive sign of Sudanese public opinion converging on the need for peace.

The Taqaddum official said this change has reduced support for the war and increased regional and international calls for its end.

Al-Mahdi warned that the war has caused a severe humanitarian crisis and poses threats to the region, neighboring countries, the Horn of Africa, and Red Sea security.

“The need to stop the war is now urgent, and we must act on this,” he said.

He praised international efforts, including the Paris and Cairo conferences and the UN's attempts to bring the warring sides together in Geneva for aid and protection.

Al-Mahdi also revealed that his coalition had proposed a plan to the military and Rapid Support Forces, focusing on humanitarian aid, political arrangements to end the war, and a transition to civilian democracy.

He stressed that the humanitarian situation cannot wait for the war to end.

“Providing aid and protecting citizens are urgent priorities. We need to act now to deliver aid, even before the war ends,” he said.

He noted that the best approach involves coordinating initiatives from various platforms, including Jeddah, IGAD, and its key member states Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, as well as Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, the African Union, and the United Nations.

Al-Mahdi emphasized that all these entities are working on humanitarian and peace efforts.

He stated that any alignment among mediators, conflict parties, and civil components is viewed by Taqaddum as a comprehensive process for achieving peace.