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Partnership between Zakat Foundation and UNRWA USA Culminates in the Repair of 125 Palestine Refugee Families' Homes

Partnership between Zakat Foundation and UNRWA USA Culminates in the Repair of 125 Palestine Refugee Families' Homes

As an update on the six month partnership between Zakat Foundation and the US National Committee of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA USA), from August to December 2017, the two organizations completed the repair of 125 Palestine refugee families' homes in the Gaza Strip, who sustained minor or major damage as a result of the military activities in 2014.

Though it has been nearly four years since the cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip in 2014, the people of Gaza continue to bear the trauma and destruction of the unprecedented 50 day long Israeli military assault. Due to the high caseload, harsh economic conditions, and the ten year illegal blockade, preventing essential entry of construction supplies, the restoration efforts in Gaza have been slow.

In the face of these logistical challenges, UNRWA’s emergency shelter repair and construction program has provided assistance to over 77,761 Palestine refugee families for minor and severe repairs and shelter reconstruction cases to date.

Through the collaborative work of UNRWA USA and Zakat Foundation from August to December 2017, the shelter repair and reconstruction project positively impacted the lives of approximately 615 Palestine refugees, who all now live in a dignified, adequate, safe, and environmentally sound shelter.

Khalil Demir, founder and Executive Director of Zakat Foundation highlights the importance of supporting Palestine refugees, stating: “The sheer magnitude of tragedy and profusion of catastrophes that Palestinians of Gaza—a staggering 1.3 million refugees—endure every single day tops, or nearly so, every conceivable humanitarian category: poverty, orphan rate, child malnutrition, anemia, disease, and disabilities; energy and water deprivation, unemployment, relief dependence, and underdevelopment; and severely curtailed medical access, equipment, supplies, medicine, and treatment.”

In light of the UNRWA funding crisis, Demir adds: “In the midst of such epic tribulation, UNRWA is nothing less than a godsend for our donors’ house repair and rebuilding program for the 5,500 families still homeless from the massive 2014 assault. UNRWA is Gaza’s gold medal organization when it comes to coordinating housing repairs, gliding over all the considerable political construction material hurdles, while closely vetting every single material provider.”

Through strong partnerships, like that between UNRWA USA and Zakat Foundation, Palestine refugees in Gaza are slowly able to reconstruct their lives, following the essential rebuilding of their houses.

For more information on this project and its outcomes, 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

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