Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Homeless Gazans Struggle to Find Shelter

IRIN (reporting from Gaza City), February 9, 2009 - Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza are still seeking shelter after their homes were badly damaged or destroyed during the 22-day Israeli offensive which ended on 18 January.

Some 4,000 homes were destroyed and about 17,000 badly damaged, according to a recent UN Gaza flash appeal. Some 50,000 people took shelter in UNRWA (UN agency for Palestinian refugees) facilities during the height of the conflict and tens of thousands have been staying in very cramped conditions with family and friends.

About US$106 million of the US$613 million UN emergency appeal issued 2 February is for shelter and non-food items, like mattresses and blankets.

No'oman (who declined to give his family name) told IRIN he, his two wives and 10 children were given five minutes to evacuate their home in Neusarat on 8 January. His 16-year-old cousin was killed in the attack which completely destroyed his home.

“Our family lost everything - furniture, two cars, more than $500,000,” said No'oman, who reckoned his home was targeted because his brother works with Islamic Jihad.

Hamas has given the family $2,000 as emergency relief compensation.

The family has taken shelter in a nearby unfinished building. The bare-bones structure lacks heating or a decent water supply....

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