Gaza: UN agencies mete out cash for shelter

Gazans whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the Israeli offensive are now living in temporary accomodations

24 February 2009 – Gazans whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the Israeli offensive that ended last month have, to date, received more than $7 million in cash from United Nations agencies in a distribution that began last week.

Some 3,800 families have benefited so far from the distribution by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), according to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

To meet long-term shelter needs of the displaced, UNDP plans for 10,000 families to get between $1,000 and $5,000 in cash aid, according to family size, current socio-economic status and level of home damage, the agency said last week.

It adds that major repair of damaged houses cannot be done until construction materials are permitted into the Gaza Strip, where, it estimates, over 14,000 homes were totally or partially damaged in three-weeks of fighting.

Israeli authorities have not allowed such materials to enter since last November, though the Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other UN top officials have repeatedly called on the country to fully open crossings into Gaza for humanitarian goods and reconstruction materials.

Israel, which launched its operation with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks by Hamas and other groups, says it has restricted access to the Strip both in response to attacks and for other security reasons.

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