“I felt my right was preserved” - Khan Younis Rehousing Project

27 July 2015
“In this house, we can invite guests and offer them tea,” said Nabil Abu Musa about his family’s new home in the Khan Younis Rehousing Project. Nabil co-signed the undertaking together with Fatheia (left) and Khadra (right), his two wives. © 2015 UNRWA Photo by Khalil Adwan.

The Musa family moved into their new home in the Khan Younis Rehousing Project a few weeks ago, after years of living in unhealthy and cramped housing conditions. As soon as they were informed by UNRWA about their new housing option, Nabil Abu Musa and his two wives, Fatheia and Khadra, visited the nearest UNRWA Relief and Social Services office to co-sign the undertaking and benefit from the new shelter.

“I immediately accepted the UNRWA policy of co-signing between husbands and wives – I have no problem with that,” recounted Nabil, a Palestine refugee, sitting on the floor of their new light and welcoming four-bedroom house with rose-painted walls and black-and-white floor tiles. “This is an internal family business, and I want to make my family happy. And who is my family? My wives and my eight children. We should all enjoy the chance of having a new home together,” he added.

“I felt very proud when they asked for my signature; I felt my right was preserved, and I was of course surprised as well,” commented Fatheia, satisfied. “It is good that a woman can feel that she has a right to the house she is living in,” added Khadra.

UNRWA is currently allocating 449 housing units in the Khan Younis Rehousing Project to select refugee families. As of 14 July, 412 families have signed the undertaking, and 324 of them have already moved into their new dwelling unit upon destruction of their old shelter. Thirty-seven families are still expected to sign the undertaking.

The Musa family is very pleased with their new home, which also includes a small, sunny yard. Their previous house was located three metres below street level; during the winter, water and sewage from the street would enter the one-room dwelling. There were mice and rats, and the walls were torn down. It had no ventilation and, as Nabil sadly explains, “we just never saw the sun.” UNRWA became aware of the poor conditions the family was living in after Nabil reached out and sought assistance. The Agency then provided the family with rental subsidy payments. For eight years, they moved from one rented house to another until finally, just at the start of Ramadan, they received the shelter in Khan Younis.

“I feel like a newborn since receiving this house,” commented Nabil with a big smile on his face. “I want to erase all the memories of the previous years, of the grave we had to live in. I feel like I am in heaven now.”

“The life of our children has changed as well,” added Fatheia. “Now they no longer have to feel shy about inviting their friends. They can play in the yard, and they can see the sun.”

Almost half of the caseload of eligible families for the Rehousing Project are Social Safety Net (SSN) Programme cases like Nabil’s family, living in constricted shelters – more than three persons living in less than 50 sq km – and identified across the Gaza Strip according to an UNRWA scoring system that considers social, financial, cultural and technical criteria. As of 14 July, 197 SSN families have signed the undertaking and 128 of them have already moved into the new shelters. The Khan Younis Rehousing Project is funded by a US$ 19.7 million contribution from the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent and covers 600 housing units in total.