03 April 2013
Over 7,000 refugee families in Gaza will receive financial support from UNRWA to repair and reconstruct homes damaged during the November conflict. A generous donation of US$ 15.6 million by the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) will enable UNRWA to provide urgently needed cash subsidies directly to the affected refugee families to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation of their war-damaged shelters.
“We are very happy and pleased that only four months after the conflict and the damage or destruction of these shelters we are able to distribute the cash subsidies to the affected 7,000 refugee families”, says Robert Turner, Director of UNRWA operations in Gaza. “We have never before been able to provide this scale of support for war-damaged refugees’ shelters in such a short time. We are very thankful for this quick and generous donation by the Saudi Fund for Development.”
Immediately after the ceasefire in late November 2012, UNRWA began reviewing the damage to refugee shelters sustained during the hostilities. Teams of engineers and social workers undertook the assessments, identifying over 7,000 shelters across the Gaza Strip that had sustained minor to severe damage. Based on the assessments that were completed and the scale of the damage funds will begin to be disbursed already in April.
“This is another example of UNRWA’s ongoing commitment to providing the best possible service to the refugees with the resources that are available,” added Mr. Turner, “as well as of the continued support from donors, particularly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”]
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 67.2 million.