Gaza Refugees Receive Saudi-Funded Homes

29 May 2014

Gaza

Thanks to a very generous US$ 43.5 million contribution from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was able to complete the second phase of the Saudi Project for Re-Housing Palestine Refugees in Rafah, Gaza. Housing units are now being handed over to beneficiaries who have been without permanent residences since their homes were destroyed by Israeli military operations more than eight years ago.

The Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Robert Turner, expressed his thanks on behalf of the Agency to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “As an Agency we are extremely proud of the partnership we have developed with the Kingdom through the Saudi Fund for Development. Nowhere better is the value of this partnership exemplified for the Palestinian people than the Rafah Housing Project here in Gaza. The Rafah housing project showcases what we as an Agency can do for Palestine refugees, bringing jobs through construction, and most importantly homes for the refugees of Gaza.”

UNRWA began the handover of 762 housing units built under Phase II on Saturday, 24 May 2014, and plans to complete the process before the start of the holy month of Ramadan. The end of the long wait for a new home means the reunion of many families who have found themselves scattered across the blockaded territory of Gaza since their homes were destroyed.

Among those who received keys to their new home was Zahra Abu Hammad (Um Ibrahim), who said: “No one can imagine how happy my family and I are today. It was a dream for us to reach the day when we’ll be in a home that belongs to us. We pray to God day and night to preserve the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Saudi people for what they are doing for us; they are giving us a life.”

Background Information

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$ 56 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0724

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