Israeli incursion leaves 1,240 Palestinians homeless, UN agency finds

13 October 2003 – The Israeli demolition of refugee shelters in Rafah camp on the southern Gaza Strip last week has left 1,240 people homeless, United Nations relief workers said today.

Teams working for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said in a statement that Israeli forces demolished 114 refugee shelters and six non-refugee homes during their incursion from 9 to 11 October. Another 117 buildings were damaged, but liveable, the agency said.

“The Agency’s relief and social services office in Rafah camp is struggling to deal with the demand for assistance from the newly homeless, but has so far established that 1,240 individuals were made homeless,” UNRWA said. “The figure of 1,500 issued on Sunday, 12 October, was an initial estimate based on the number of homes demolished, multiplied by average family size.

“The recent incursion brings the total number of Palestinians who have been made homeless in Rafah since the beginning of the current intifada to 7,523,” it added. “The total for the whole of the Gaza Strip now stands at 11,987.”

UNRWA said it has been providing the homeless with tents and hot meals, as well as cash to pay rent, but “three years of demolitions has created an acute shortage of property in Rafah.”

The agency said in June last year that Rafah’s registered refugee population was 90,638.

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