Gaza Families Find New ‘Home’ in UN-Built Shelters

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) today has provided new 223 housing units to more than 1,300 Palestinians living in Gaza’s Khan Younis camp.

Reports say UNRWA held an inauguration ceremony today to officially hand over the housing units constructed with a $7.2 million donation from the Government of the Netherlands.

“We are grateful to the Government of the Netherlands for its consistent support for our work and for Palestine refugees.” – Commissioner-General of the UNRWA Filippo Grandi

Children in Gaza colour together during the fourth annual 2010 Summer Games, a 10week programme for children organized by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan

He says the contribution does more than rebuild homes, it rebuilds lives of the Gazan families.

UNRWA from the Netherlands is used not only to build the shelters, but also to fund the construction of roads, water infrastructure, and an electricity system to improve the living conditions of the refugee families in Khan Younis.

According to UNRWA, new shelters are a priority in the refugee camps of Gaza, which is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Large families are often cramped in unsafe shelters as a result of prevalent poverty and property destruction from the Gaza War in 2009.

UN says effects of the 2009 war still persist in West Bank and Gaza and the humanitarian needs of the women, men and children of Gaza remain widespread and acute.

In 2009, Israel waged a fierce three-week military campaign in Gaza to stop rockets from being fired on its southern communities. Israel engaged a devastating air and ground campaign that left as many as 1,400 Palestinians dead by the time a cease-fire was unilaterally declared by both sides. Much of the region’s civil infrastructure and many homes were left in ruins during the three-week offensive that ended in January 2009. Thirteen Israelis were also killed.

UNRWA is the only UN agency directly providing essential services in education, health, microfinance and social safety-net support to some five million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East, pending a solution to their plight.

In September 2011, United Nations renewed its appeal to donors to provide $36 million in urgently-needed funds to support emergency assistance to Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.

The $36 million is needed for programmes related to temporary employment, food assistance, school feeding, and community mental health, according to UNRWA, which is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States.

These programmes are separate from the agency’s regular education, health and relief activities, and are specifically tailored to address the most urgent humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable refugees in Gaza.

According to UN, the Netherlands has been an active member of UNRWA’s Advisory Commission since 2005, giving USD 154.9 million in voluntary contributions since 2007. Netherlands is the Agency’s eighth-largest donor last year.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.