UNRWA Offers 2,499 Gaza Refugee Families Rental Subsidies, Reintegration Grants

JERUSALEM, July 14, 2015 (WAFA) – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said on Monday it has been able to secure an amount of $1.46 million in funding for outstanding rental subsidies and for replacement of lost household goods of Palestinian refugee families in Gaza.

In a statement Tuesday, it said that while $556,900 will be provided to cover rental subsidies for the period from September to December 2014, some $909,500   reintegration grants to replace lost household goods will reach 2,499 refugee families ($500 each) across the Gaza Strip. It said the families can access this assistance through local banks.

This week’s assistance adds to the $180,000 that has been disbursed last week for outstanding rental subsidy payments to cover the period from September to December 2014, and has reached 195 refugee families.

Two weeks ago, UNRWA announced that, due to a severe financial crisis it has been facing recently, 35% of its 137 international personnel will see their contracts end in the coming four weeks.

UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness, said 85% of all 137 international personnel on short term contracts will be separated in a phased process which will last until the end of September. He said 35% of those 137 internationals will be laid off in the coming four weeks.

Another 50% will end by September 30 without further extension or renewal, he added. “UNRWA is taking this measure to reduce costs as much as possible without reducing services to refugees,” Gunnes said in a press statement.

“UNRWA has a deficit to the end of the year of $101 million and we will continue with our robust efforts in resource mobilization. As things currently stand, with stringent austerity measures already in place beyond today’s announcement, the Agency should be able to continue with life-saving services to the end of the year,” he said.

Also in January, UNRWA announced it was forced to suspend its cash assistance program in Gaza to tens of thousands of people for repairs to damaged and destroyed homes and for rental subsidies to the homeless.

It said that while $720 million was required for rental subsidies and repairs to over 96,000 Palestinian refugee families, whose homes were damaged or destroyed during last summer’s conflict, UNRWA only received $135 million in pledges, leaving a shortfall of $585 million.