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UN Gaza agency forced to suspend aid to refugees

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UN Gaza agency forced to suspend aid to refugees



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A shortfall in funding has forced the UN agency in Gaza (UNWRA) to suspend aid to tens of thousands of Palestinians for repairs to homes damaged in the conflict last summer.

More than a quarter of the population was displaced by the fighting. The UN warned on Tuesday that rebuilding is a matter of life and death, with babies dying of hypothermia in the winter months.

It appears little of the 5.4 billion dollars pledged by international donors at a Cairo conference has reached the territory.

“We have only received 135 million dollars. We asked at the Cairo conference for 724 million dollars. But the reconstruction funds have not arrived in Gaza. This will cause more suffering for the people,” said UN Relief and Works Agency Adnan Abu Hasna.

“People are desperate and the international community cannot even provide the bare minimum – for example a repaired home in winter – let alone a lifting of the blockade, access to markets or freedom of movement. We’ve said before that quiet will not last, and now the quiet is at risk,” explained UNRWA Director in Gaza Robert Turner.

Israel fought Hamas last summer in response to rocket fire from Gaza. The conflict left thousands living in damaged buildings, with some taking shelter amongst the rubble, using plastic sheets to fend off the elements.

The UN is warning that without more funding the situation may cause further instability.

Hamas and other groups have also warned that fighting with Israel could resume unless rebuilding was stepped up.


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