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UNRWA USA and Zakat Foundation Partner on Rebuild Gaza

UNRWA USA and Zakat Foundation Partner on Rebuild Gaza

Following the success of partnering together in March 2017, the Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) and the US national committee of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA USA) are partnering again in the next six months to repair houses that sustained both minor and major damage for 83 more families living in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

“It’s been more than three years since many families homes were damaged during the 2014 assault on Gaza, but due to the scale of destruction, some families are just receiving the resources to repair their houses now,” said UNRWA USA Executive Director, Abby Smardon. “And now with the crippling energy crisis, the residents of Gaza are also living in darkness with just 2 hours of electricity a day, further restricting their ability to live normal lives. Despite this, the refugees we meet say they’re hopeful that they can one day have the opportunity to live and thrive without the burden of the illegal blockade. We are committed to partnerships like this one which significantly improve the quality of life for the families and communities served.”

Overall, through the emergency shelter repair and reconstruction program, UNRWA has been providing assistance to over 141,000 Palestine refugees whose houses were damaged or destroyed during the assault. To date, 65% of the 153,200 houses partially damaged in 2014 have either begun repairs or completed repairs to their houses.

Through this critical program, not only are families able to rebuild their houses, but 5,742 short-term construction jobs were created last year in a place where unemployment levels are among the highest in the world.

The Gaza Strip is merely twice the size of Washington, DC, but contains the sixth highest population density in the world. Due to the blockade, which severely limits movement in and out of Gaza, unemployment among youth and the population as a whole are at unprecedented highs, 68% and 42% respectively, out of a total population of 2 million people. Due to these circumstances, in 2012 it was predicted by the UN that Gaza would be unlivable by 2020. This month, a newly published UN report, 'Gaza – 10 years later' indicated that Gaza is effectively unlivable already. The services UNRWA provides to refugees in Gaza to 71% of the total population, has saved the Gaza Strip from being deemed unlivable sooner.

Restoration efforts in Gaza present many logistical hurdles that hinder sustained recovery. The ongoing blockade, now in its tenth year, makes the entry of construction supplies, and people, challenging, as all relief operations are funded solely through voluntary contributions.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is also unique in that it is entirely man-made, but ZF and UNRWA USA are working together to address the housing shortage by providing residents with the means to repair their houses and bring back the security that only a safe house can provide.

For more information or details about ZF’s and UNRWA’s on-the-ground experience and impressions of contemporary life in Gaza, please contact us using the information below, or visit our websites at zakat.org and unrwausa.org.    

CONTACTS: ZF Public Relations Coordinator, Nour Zein, (708) 233-0555, nour@zakat.org; UNRWA USA Director of Communications, Laila Mokhiber, (202) 223-3767, laila@unrwausa.org

Zakat Foundation Partners with United Nations Relief and Works Agency to Rebuild the Gaza Strip

Zakat Foundation Partners with United Nations Relief and Works Agency to Rebuild the Gaza Strip

Collaboration Aims to Restore Hundreds of Refugee Houses in Beleaguered Coastal Enclave

The Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) is partnering with the US national committee of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA USA) to repair and reconstruct hundreds of houses in the Gaza Strip damaged during the 2014 summer conflict. The two NGOs are working together within the blockaded zone to provide an example of how international organizations can cooperate to advance humanitarian objectives in hard to reach communities.

Through the emergency shelter repair and reconstruction program, UNRWA has been providing assistance to over 141,000 Palestine refugees whose houses were damaged or destroyed during the assault. Reconstruction efforts in Gaza present many logistical hurdles that hinder sustained recovery. The ongoing blockade, now in its tenth year, makes the entry of construction supplies, and people, difficult, and all relief operations are funded solely through voluntary contributions. Almost three years later, only 20% of houses have been repaired or rebuilt, and only 50% have been funded.

The Gaza Strip is merely twice the size of Washington, DC, but contains the sixth highest population density in the world. Due to the blockade, which severely limits movement in and out of Gaza, unemployment among youth and the population as a whole are at unprecedented highs, 68% and 42% respectively, out of a total population of 2 million people. Additionally, a full 71% of the population of Gaza are refugees registered with UNRWA to receive humanitarian and development services.

“I visit Gaza every year, and I’ve witnessed with my own eyes the flattened neighborhood of Shejaiya and rubble strewn where houses once stood. One family whose story stayed with me had been living in an UNRWA classroom for nearly a year after they were forced to flee the bombs raining down on their house in Shejaiya. They told me of the fear and trauma they still live with each and every day,” said UNRWA USA Executive Director, Abby Smardon. “But despite the destroyed houses and the continued trauma from the ongoing blockade, the people of Gaza never give up striving for a better future.“

The enormity of the international refugee crisis has captured headlines over the last year, yet over 5 million Palestinian refugees have long been chronically marginalized. Moreover, schools, hospitals, and other public institutions are consistently deprived of the basic supplies and resources they need, making it difficult to sustain a functioning civil society for those living in the Gaza Strip.

Our partnership with ZF is proof that by collaborating, international NGOs can make a huge impact and transform the lives of those facing extreme challenges in hard to reach communities.
— Abby Smardon, Executive Director, UNRWA USA

“We’re proud that through this multi-stage project, we were able to repair twenty-two houses with minor or major damage, with an additional sixty-five scheduled to be fully restored by April 2017. It is through American partnerships like this one, that we are able to have a positive impact on the lives of refugees.”

For more information or details about ZF’s and UNRWA’s on-the-ground experience and impressions of contemporary life in Gaza, please contact us using the information below, or visit our websites at zakat.org and unrwausa.org.    

CONTACTS: ZF Public Relations Coordinator, Jamie Merchant, (708) 233-0555, jamie@zakat.org; UNRWA USA Director of Communications, Laila Mokhiber, (202) 223-3767, laila@unrwausa.org