23 June 2011
Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development will finance refugee housing in Rafah, Gaza, to the tune of US$ 70 million. The Rafah housing project, which began in 2005, has been halted for the last three years by the Israeli blockade. UNRWA hopes it will soon be restarted following this week’s announcement of a partial lifting of the blockade to allow a number of UNRWA housing and school projects to go ahead.
The pledge of US$ 70 million, announced by the Saudi Fund at a meeting of UNRWA’s Advisory Commission on 22 June, confirms Saudi funding for the completion of Phase 1 of the project, comprising 752 houses and provides additional resources for a new Phase 2, comprising a further 779 dwellings.
The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Mr Filippo Grandi, said: “Hundreds of refugee families in southern Gaza will be delighted at this news. Many of them have been forced to live for years in deplorable conditions in full sight of their demolished houses on which work had hardly begun. An end to this dreadful situation is now at hand and we shall press ahead with implementation as fast as the limited crossings facilities for the importation of building materials from Israel into Gaza allow. UNRWA and the refugees are grateful to the leadership, government, and people of Saudi Arabia, and to the Saudi Fund, for their generous and consistent support of which this important pledge is the latest example.”
The announcement follows an earlier Saudi donation last week of US$5.2 million to the agency’s main budget. Those funds will go towards providing education, health, relief and social services to Palestine refugees in UNRWA’s five fields of operation.
"UNRWA is grateful to the leadership and people of Saudi Arabia for this timely contribution,” said Filippo Grandi, receiving a cheque from Fahd Al Zaid, the Saudi ambassador to Jordan.
"It comes at a time when the agency is facing a very worrying deficit in funding for its regular programs. The kingdom’s support for UNRWA is highly appreciated."
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