UNRWA completed phase three of its Rehousing Project for Palestine refugees in Rafah, southern Gaza. The Rafah Rehousing Project is the Agency’s largest rehousing project in the Gaza Strip. The third construction phase of the project started on 1 January 2015 and includes 230 housing units accommodating 1,310 Palestine refugees, or approximately 281 refugee families. In total, since its commencement in 2001, the project provided 1,741 housing units for some 11,000 Palestine refugees. In addition, through its three phases the construction project has created more than 160,000 working days in the Gaza Strip for some 10,000 labourers.
The handing over of housing units commenced on 20 March when selected families signed for keys to their new homes at the rehousing project site or at various UNRWA Relief and Social Services Offices in Gaza. The project follows a co-signing policy between husbands and wives, so that the whole family has the right to benefit from the housing unit. Through the co-signing policy, UNRWA ensures gender-equality in its service delivery and thus contributes to Sustainable Development Goal number five (gender equality).
63-year old Ghalia Uliyan co-signed together with her husband, Mahmoud Qeshta, on 20 March: “With this key, I will open a new chapter in my life; now I will have more stability, comfort and peace of mind compared to the previous years of displacement,” she said.
Ghalia’s family home was demolished during the 2008/2009 conflict. Since then, the family has either lived with extended family or rented a temporary shelter, but none of these houses had ever felt like home. Now, Ghalia will finally move, together with her husband, one single son and one married son, his wife and their children.
“I am grateful and very much appreciate continuous efforts by UNRWA to support Palestine refugees. I wish that also all other Palestine refugees suffering from continuous displacement will benefit from this generosity,” Ghalia said.
Phase three of the Rafah rehousing project offers three types of housing units, according to family size; all housing units include at least two bedrooms, one living room, one bathroom, one toilet and one kitchen. Furthermore, the project includes buildings with one floor and buildings with two or three floors to accommodate extended refugee families who fulfil the eligibility criteria.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 81 million. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance .
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