The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced it has kicked of the rebuilding hundreds of homes that were severely damaged during the clash between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza in May.
UNRWA’s Commissioner General, Philippe Lazzarini, made the announcement on Tuesday during a conference held in front of one of damaged houses, in a camp for Palestinian refugees, west of Gaza City.
“Priority will be given to 1,200 destroyed houses belonging to Palestinian families, who were unable to return to their homes because of the destruction,” he said. “There are also 7,000 families, who will be provided with assistance if full support is secured.”
Lazzarini explained that the agency needed USD20 million to repair destroyed homes.
The 11-day Israeli assault on Gaza resulted in massive destruction, where 1,335 residential facilities were totally or severely destroyed, while around 12,886 houses were partially damaged, according to the Government Information Office in Gaza.
Lazzarini stated, however, that UNRWA was suffering from financial problems and did not have sufficient cash to pay the salaries of its employees for the months of November and December.
But he noted that despite this situation, the schools are back to work at full capacity, food is being distributed at a normal pace and coronavirus vaccination campaigns have continued.
Lazzarini expressed optimism about the possibility of “overcoming this crisis in cooperation with the Member States”.
Meanwhile, Palestinians launched a campaign against UNRWA, accusing it of becoming “a political and security tool in the hands of the United States,” following the recent framework agreement to resume US funding.
Ahmed al-Mudallal, an “Islamic Jihad” official in charge of the refugee file, said on Tuesday: “The US money that is provided to UNRWA is politically conditional, through which the US administration is working to end the presence of UNRWA and make it a security agent within the US State Department…”
Lazzarini strongly denied the presence of any political or other conditions in the bilateral framework agreement with Washington, underlining his commitment to the UNRWA values and international law.
In early April, the administration of US President Joe Biden announced the resumption of financial support for UNRWA’s activities within a framework agreement, after it was suspended by former President Donald Trump in August 2018.