GAZA, September 10, 2013 (WAFA) – UNRWA inaugurated 226 new shelters for over 1,200 Palestinian refugees whose homes were destroyed before the Israeli disengagement in 2005, said a press release by UNRWA’s office in Gaza on Monday.
It noted that Makoto Honda, Deputy Representative of Japan to the Palestinian Authority, and Robert Turner, Director of Operations in Gaza for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), inaugurated 226 new shelters, built for over 1,200 Palestine refugees whose homes were demolished or damaged beyond repair prior to the Israeli disengagement in August 2005.
A donation of $12.4 million from the Government of Japan assisted the completion of the construction of the housing units and supported the construction of two schools, a health centre and a community centre, in Khan Younis.
The donation, according to the press release, supported work on critical infrastructure systems including water, sewerage and electricity.
“We are grateful to the Government and the people of Japan for their commitment to the rehousing project in Gaza,” said Turner.
Even though the rehousing project commenced in 2006, political crisis such as the blockade on Gaza halted its progression.
The press release pointed out that despite UNRWA being one of the few agencies granted limited exemptions from the Israeli restrictions on importing construction materials, the approval for the housing units was not granted until 2011.
Turner elaborated, “Almost a decade ago, the families who will live in the Japan-funded houses lost everything overnight, in an extremely painful reminder of their first displacement in 1948. We are grateful to Japan for standing by us and the Palestine refugees until we were able to complete the new shelters.”
On the other hand, Honda said, “You have suffered a lot in the wake of your homes being demolished. It must have been one of the hardest times of your lives, and life has not been easy ever since.”