International Community Pledges $560 Million To Construct Gaza Desalination Plant
International donors raised $560 million to build a desalination plant in the Gaza Strip that will provide around 2 million people with safe drinking water. The money, which was pledged at a conference in Brussels, will cover around 80 percent of the facility’s projected cost. Currently, Palestinians in the coastal enclave rely primarily on an underground aquifer for their water, however, its quality is poor and Gazans are drawing off around four times what the source can sustain each year. The development follows a conference last week in Rome convened by the United Nations Relief And Works Agency (UNRWA)—which attends to Palestinians refugees across the Middle East—called in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent decision to slash aid to the body. While UNRWA received nearly $100 million in new pledges, it still faces a shortfall of about $350 million this year, with officials warning the organization will thus be forced to cease operations in May. Critics of UNRWA, including many in the Israeli government, contend that the institution is an “obstacle to peace,” arguing that it has perpetuated the Palestinian refugee problem by allowing such status to be passed down from generation-to-generation. While UNRWA today attends to 5 million-odd people, there are only an estimated 50,000 Palestinians still living who were displaced from their homes during the war initiated by Arab countries against Israel in the immediate aftermath of its declaration of independence in 1948.