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Protesters gather at UNRWA offices in southern Gaza

March 28, 2016 5:54 P.M. (Updated: March 29, 2016 4:35 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Palestinians gathered in front of the UNRWA offices in the southern Gazan city of Rafah on Monday to protest a perceived lack of support for refugees affected by Israel's devastating 2014 offensive.

The protesters demanded that the UN agency for Palestinian refugees speed up its support for the victims, many of whom were left homeless by the 50-day war.

"We are here today to protest against UNRWA's policy of delaying the promised compensation for the victims of Israel's aggression in 2014," said Muhammad al-Hasanat, a senior official in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

He condemned the UN agency's "ongoing evasion of their responsibilities towards Palestinian refugees, who face dire conditions under the crippling Israeli siege, which has caused poverty and unemployment."

The official urged UNRWA to exert pressure on donor countries to deliver more financial support to the UN body.

UNRWA has faced a severe financial crisis in recent years, particularly due to the 2014 Gaza war, as well as wider regional turmoil, including Syria's civil war, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees.

In the Gaza Strip, the agency said it would require $720 million for its emergency shelter program in the wake of the devastating 2014 war, but donor countries have pledged only $247 million.

During the war, Israel's army killed nearly 2,300 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority civilians, including at least 550 children, according to UN figures.

The UN also found that 12,600 homes were totally destroyed, 6,500 severely damaged, and another 150,000 housing units made uninhabitable during the conflict.

"The conflict led to a homelessness crisis in Gaza, with almost 500,000 persons displaced at its peak," the agency said. "Thousands remain displaced to this day."
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