Safety net for refugee families in Gaza

13 January 2011

January 2011

Many refugee families in Gaza suffer from extreme poverty, badly affecting parents and their children. Tight restrictions on movement of people and goods have eroded the economy and left hundreds of thousands of people unemployed. UNRWA’s social safety-net programme responds to the needs of these most vulnerable refugees.

Improving the situation

A house that doesn’t see the sun throughout the year is an unhealthy place to live.  Refugee Wadi Mohammed Hammad and his nine-member family live in three dark rooms in Beach camp on the west side of Gaza. Wadi has been unemployed for a long time.

Hanan, Wadi‘s wife, said: "The house is unhealthy and we suffer from a lack of space. It affects the psychology of my children and even my daughter at university, who is getting much lower results than before. Also I have to say that as the children grow their demands increase with them, and this increases the burden on us."

Wadi requested help from the social safety-net programme. Agency staff visited the family to assess their living conditions, and since then UNRWA has provided him with a cash subsidy every three months.

Wadi said: "My situation has improved is much better than before. I was able to pay my daughter‘s university fees and provide my children’s school requirements. Now I feel more comfortable and I hope I can make my house the best place to live in the future.”

Fixed income

Hanan Adel Alfasees has 11 children, one of whom has a disability. Hanan lives in a two-bedroom house in the Zeitoun neighborhood west of Gaza. She and her husband live in very bad conditions.

Hanan says: "UNRWA is the only thing that helps us. The Agency has provided my husband, who is unemployed, with a fixed income every three months, and they also gave us a wardrobe."

Abdul-Rahman, Hanan‘s husband, described their situation before UNRWA‘s assistance: "In the past, my condition was very bad. I was not able to provide a decent life for my children; I could hardly afford a bag of flour. Now, with a fixed income from UNRWA, I can afford it and I‘m more relaxed and comfortable. "

Supporting the most vulnerable

In Gaza, 60,000 of the poorest families are eligible to receive cash assistance from UNRWA, but limited funds means we are only able to help 20,000 families. UNRWA also provides financial support to schoolchildren. Paying for uniforms and other essential items makes sure every child, however poor, is able to return to school.

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More about the Gaza Strip emergency

More about UNRWA in Gaza

European Union flagUNRWA’s social safety net programme in Gaza is sponsored by the European Union through the Food Facility, a rapid response fund to a global rise in food prices. The European Union constitutes the largest provider of international assistance to Palestinian refugees. Over the last decade, the EU alone has provided more than €1 billion of support to the Agency. 

To find out more about the EU’s assistance to the Palestinians, visit the Europa website

Find out more about the EU’s Food Facility