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UN to close more than 90 shelters for Gazans displaced by 2014 war

By Editor - June 18, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [UNRWA] [refugees] [Gaza]

UN school used as a shelter during the summer 2014 war. Photo by Lazar Simeonov.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides relief and assistance to approximately five million Palestinian refugees, said Thursday it planned to close all remaining shelters for Gazans who were forced to flee their homes during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge last summer.


UNRWA will close over 90 shelters which have temporarily housed approximately 300,000 Palestinians whose homes were destroyed during Israel’s 50 day war with Hamas and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip last summer, which ended in August claiming the lives of over 2000 Palestinians mostly civilians and over 70 Israelis, mostly military.


The agency’s Gaza-based media adviser, Adnan Abu Hasna, said that the decision to close the shelters had been made with full consent of the Palestinians staying in them, and that “no pressure had been exerted on them, according to Ma’an News Agency. In the same report, Abu Hasna said that UNRWA had arranged for housing for those leaving the shelters for a four month period.


“UNRWA was never meant to exist for this long. It exists because of political failure. In the absence of a just and lasting solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA has become more than an Agency. It is a lifeline,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said of the agency at its 65 year anniversary in New York June 2.


One year since the beginning of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, and nine months since a cease fire was agreed, UNRWA reports indicate that not one single completely destroyed home in Gaza has been rebuilt. However, UNRWA have begun repairs to partially damaged buildings from the war.


UNRWA provides food assistance to more than 868,000 Palestinians in Gaza, almost half the 1.7 million population of the strip. According to AFP, the amount of money UNRWA would be able to assist families depends on whether international donors fulfil their pledges to the reconstruction of Gaza.


In April of this, Al Jazeera reported that one quarter of the $3.5 billion pledged to the reconstruction of Gaza had been received.

At the UNRWA 65 anniversary Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl said he would continue to encourage international donations to UNRWA, recommending that potential donors see pledging money the agency as an investment. “UNRWA is making a determined effort to address some of its key financial problems internally but we require the support of existing and new partners. Supporting UNRWA financially should be seen as an investment in the future not as a burden,” the Commissioner General said.  


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