Thursday, 5 March 2015

Gaza's housing crisis

Around 96,000 homes were destroyed in the bombardment, leaving tens of thousands of families struggling in the harsh winter without a home. And aid agencies say that number is set to increase due to dwindling relief and slow restoration.
According to the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, an UN-brokered deal between Israeli and Palestinian authorities - an agreement was reached to enable construction work "on a large scale" in the area.
However, it includes an arrangement that restricts the flow of "dual use" materials into Gaza, comprising of cement and other essential building materials, supplies that could be seized for military purposes by Hamas.
As a result, few homes have been rebuilt despite international pledges amounting to billions. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said they were forced to suspend its cash assistance programme at the end of January after running out of money.

The agency claimed that to date, it had only received $135m (£87.8m) in pledges, leaving a shortfall of $585m (£380.6m), and the number provided to Palestinian refugee families to repair the homes was far less.
Aid agencies have subsequently found innovative ways to temporarily accommodate Gazans, as temperatures plummet in the strip.
Makeshift temporary homes made out of metal and wood have been created in a bid to evade Israeli restrictions on imports into the territory.
The Catholic Relief Services told Reuters that the agency had built 70 temporary homes in Khan Younis, a town in southern Gaza heavily damaged in the 50-day war, and has funding for 100 more. Forty families are reported to have moved so far, but remain in cramped conditions.
A UNRWA spokesman told Channel 4 News that some material was being allowed in to the territory, but it was still not enough. Christopher Gunness said: "We had to suspend the programme because we ran out of cash.

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