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More from Birch: ‘It would take 100 trucks 14 years to clear the rubble so far’ in Gaza

Birch, head of the UNMAS programme in the Palestinian territories, has said he hoped the UN agency, which works to mitigate the threats posed by all types of explosive ordnance, would become the coordinating body for mine action in Gaza.

  • It has secured $5m of funding but needs a further $40m to continue its work in Gaza over the next 12 months, he said.
  • However, “the sector as a whole will need hundreds of millions of US dollars over multiple years in order to make Gaza safe again for the population”, Birch added.

  • “Because the level of rubble is so unprecedented, it’s going to take new thinking on how we proceed with the clearance,” said Birch.

UNMAS has said that 65 percent of the buildings destroyed in Gaza were residential, and it would take 100 trucks 14 years to clear the rubble so far.

Source: Al Jazeera

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) says that the mammoth task of clearing Gaza’s debris is made all the more costly and dangerous by the sheer amount of asbestos and unexploded ordnance.

Nearly seven months into the war, UNMAS estimates the amount of debris in the Gaza Strip at 37 million tonnes in mid-April, or 300 kilogrammes per square metre (60 pounds per square foot).

“Gaza has more rubble than Ukraine, and to put that in perspective, the Ukrainian front line is 600 miles [nearly 1,000km] long, and Gaza is 25 miles [40km] long,” said Mungo Birch, head of the UNMAS programme in the Palestinian territories.

But the volume of rubble is not the only problem, UNMAS said.

  • “This rubble is likely heavily contaminated with UXO [unexploded ordnance], but its clearance will be further complicated by other hazards in the rubble,” Birch told journalists in Geneva.
  • “There’s estimated to be over 800,000 tonnes of asbestos, for instance, alone in the Gaza rubble.”

The cancer-causing mineral used in construction requires special precautions when handling.

It is generally estimated that 10 to 15 percent of the munitions fired do not explode on impact and therefore represent a lasting danger for civilian populations.

Source: Al Jazeera