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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 02:18 GMT 03:18 UK
UN puts West Bank damage at $300m
Children play in the rubble of Jenin refugee camp
Damage appraisal is the first step toward reconstruction
Israel's military offensive in the West Bank caused up to $300m (204m) worth of damage to Palestinian property and reconstruction will take over a year, a United Nations report suggests.

The assessment was carried out by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in co-operation with the governments of Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and the United States, and the World Bank.

The damage appraisal is the first step in drawing up a plan for the reconstruction of the West Bank.

It will be distributed to international donors who will then be asked to allocate funds for specific projects.

Unease

The UN says that donors have in principle agreed to disburse around $1.2bn over the coming year, but the extent to which this money can in practice be distributed will depend on whether or not the military conflict continues.

According to this latest assessment, Nablus was the hardest-hit of all the Palestinian towns, suffering an estimated $110m worth of damage during the Israeli army's 18-day occupation.

An Israeli tank near Nablus, the hardest-hit West Bank town
Israeli tanks wrecked much Palestinian property

Throughout the West Bank, many Palestinian Government buildings were destroyed by heavy shelling.

The UNDP says it has already provided $1.9m in emergency aid over the past three weeks.

However, the head of the World Bank's programme in Gaza says that though donor countries are committed to providing aid, they are also concerned that they could end up financing a programme of reconstruction only to see the Palestinian infrastructure reduced to rubble again by more fighting.

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 ON THIS STORY
UN High Commisioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson
"Israel feels that the UN is stacked against it"
See also:

04 May 02 | Middle East
Arafat faces calls for reform
25 Apr 02 | Middle East
Aid boost for Palestinians
20 Mar 02 | Middle East
Eyewitness: Bite of the blockade
08 Feb 02 | Middle East
Palestinian descent into chaos
30 Nov 01 | issues
The running of Palestine
26 Sep 01 | issues
Palestinians count the cost
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