Qatar isolation could damage Gaza reconstruction: NGO
Gulf sanctions against Qatar could damage reconstruction in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, where it has provided large financial backing, the head of a major humanitarian charity warned Tuesday.
Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council and a former head of the UN’s humanitarian wing, warned Qatar might have to cut back some of its aid to Gaza.
“Qatar has been very important as an investor in Gaza and as a contributor to infrastructure progress there. It is my impression this may not easily continue,” he said.
The Gulf state is one of the largest donors to the impoverished Palestinian enclave and has funded the rebuilding of much of its infrastructure since a 2014 war with Israel.
Saudi Arabia and its allies cut off ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of allegedly supporting extremism – an allegation Doha vehemently denies.
Riyadh, Cairo, Abu Dhabi and Manama have also closed their airspace to Qatari planes, a move which could severely damage the Gulf state’s economy.
After the 2014 war with Israel, gas-rich Qatar pledged $1 billion for reconstruction - the largest of any single country.
As of December 2016, $216 million of that had been dispersed, according to the World Bank, while the Gulf state suffers from falling energy prices.
Roads and other infrastructure in Gaza have been built with Qatari funding.
Qatar’s rulers have strong ties to Hamas, the Palestinian movement that runs Gaza.
More than two-thirds of Gazans are reliant on international aid, with the enclave suffering from a decade-long Israeli blockade.