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UNRWA provides cash transfers to Palestinians in Gaza displaced by 2014 war

July 11, 2017 7:26 P.M. (Updated: July 11, 2017 7:30 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), tasked with providing services to some five million Palestinian refugees, told Ma’an on Tuesday that cash was distributed to Palestinians whose homes were damaged during Israel’s devastating 2014 offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Adnan Abu Hasna, spokesman for UNRWA in Gaza, told Ma’an that cash transfers worth up to $5,860 were deposited in the bank accounts of 440 Palestinian families whose homes were damaged in the 2014 Gaza war and have since remained uninhabitable.

According to Abu Hasna, the transfers were made after UNRWA received $2.5 million from the European Commission.

The 51-day offensive in 2014 left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead, including at least 1,462 civilians, a third of whom were children, according to the United Nations.

On Friday, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) released a statement noting that a little over one third of the 11,000 homes totally destroyed in the war had been rebuilt, adding that many of the affected families have lived in tents for the past three years.

According to NRC, 160,000 additional homes were also damaged during the war.

NRC stated that 6,300 Palestinian families -- 35,000 individuals -- in Gaza have remained displaced from the war.

Meanwhile, reconstruction efforts have been painfully slow -- hindered by Israel's blockade, ongoing disputes between Gaza's de facto ruling party Hamas and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA), and a severe shortage of foreign assistance.

According to NRC, halfway into 2017, only 30 percent of promised funding for reconstruction in Gaza had been covered, leaving a deficit of $380 million.

“Even if the necessary funding is made available immediately, we are still looking at another year of construction before the displaced families can return to their homes,” NRC’s Country Director in Jerusalem Hanibal Abiy Worku said in the statement.

NRC highlighted that humanitarian assistance has been greatly affected by Israel's decade-long siege on the Gaza Strip, especially owing to restrictions on building materials. According to NRC, 46 percent of the amount of cement needed for housing reconstruction in Gaza since 2014 is still needed.

On top of tens of thousands of Palestinians still reeling from the effects of the 2014 war, Israel has continued to keep Gaza's two million residents under a military siege, while the Hamas and Fatah rivalry has escalated in recent weeks and further contributed to the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

The UN has warned that the Gaza Strip would become uninhabitable for residents by 2020, pointing to the devastation of war and the crippling effects of Israel's blockade, while 80 percent of Gaza’s population has become dependent on humanitarian assistance.
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