Social Safety Net Offers Hope – and a Roof

06 January 2009

January 2009

Jabalia, Gaza

Mohammed Sulaiman Abadan is a Palestine refugee living in Jabalia camp, Gaza, with his wife, four sons and two daughters. Jabalia, the largest and most densely crowded camp in the Gaza Strip, is home to around 107,000 refugees.


Before the closure of the Strip in 2000, most refugees in the camp found work as labourers in Israel, or locally in the agricultural sector. Mohammed worked as a chef’s assistant in Tel Aviv, earning $900 a month. But the closure of Gaza put an end to this steady income and, like many other Gazan refugees, Mohammed was plunged into poverty. He and his family became dependent on charitable assistance; this tended to be sporadic, and only provided for the very basic needs of the family.

Mohammed now benefits from UNRWA’s newly reformed Social Safety Net programme, which targets relief and social services towards the abject poor in order to help them get back on their feet. Under the programme, made possible by the European Commission‘s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), the family receive a quarterly allowance designed to give vulnerable families a degree of financial flexibility; this enables them to buy fresh nutritious food, support local suppliers, and make other purchases according to their needs. 

The new programme is welcomed by Mohammed, who explains that his priority is quality of life in the family home.  He has taken charge of the family‘s financial situation, paid off his debts, and obtained medical treatment for his son, which he was unable to do before. He‘s even been able to repair the roof of the family home, which used to let in the rains in winter. 

Overall, Mohammed says, he is able to provide for his family in a way that was not possible before. “Now we can afford other things we need, such as clothes, food and things for the house”, he says, adding with a smile, “some good changes have occurred in our life."


ECHO logo

Since 1992, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) has funded relief to millions of victims of both natural disasters and man-made crises outside the EU. Aid is channeled impartially, straight to victims, regardless of their race, religion and political beliefs.  For the past 18 years, ECHO has supported UNRWA through a variety of programmes.

To find out more, visit the ECHO website.



Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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