Read caption An entire neighbourhood in Shajaiya was wiped out in the 2014 war, killing many and displacing thousands. At the current rate of reconstruction materials being allowed into blockaded Gaza, it will take another 66 years to rebuild what was destroyed and meet the total housing needs. Photo: Karl Schembri/NRC

Three years after the war: Thousands of displaced in Gaza await return to their homes

Published 06. Jul 2017
Three years after the war in 2014, Gaza citizens continue to live in displacement. Of 11,000 homes totally destroyed during the war, a little over one third have been rebuilt. Many families continue to live in tents.

“I built a tent and stayed in it for three years, while waiting for Gaza to be rebuilt. We’re still living in it (…) We are alive now because death hasn’t bothered to take us yet. It will be way better for us to die, as we won’t face problems anymore,” Thaer Al Sheesh, a father of four living in Gaza, told NRC.

8 July 2014, the conflict between Israel and Hamas evolved into a full-scale war which cost 1492 Palestinian and 6 Israeli civilian lives. In addition to the 11,000 homes totally destroyed, 160,000 homes were damaged during the seven weeks of war.

“Palestinians in Gaza are still waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. 6,300 families remain displaced with no home to return to, in the absence of funding” NRC´s Country Director in Jerusalem, Hanibal Abiy Worku, says.

In addition to the devastating consequences of the last war, Palestinians in Gaza are also suffering the impact of a ten-year long siege leading to increased want and need. Reconstruction efforts have been adversely affected by the restrictions on building materials imposed by Israel, as well as lack of funding.

Three years on, 35,000 people remain displaced and the Gazan society is at the brink of collapse as the severe power shortages have all but ground Gaza to a halt. The situation in Gaza has become increasingly dire in recent months, with power cuts and lack of fuel for generators for hospitals, water treatment plants, sewerage pumps and other key facilities.

Over halfway into the year, only 30 per cent of the promised funding for the humanitarian appeal has been covered. This leaves a funding gap of over 380 million USD.  

“Even if the necessary funding is made available immediately, we are still looking at another year of construction before the displaced families can return to their homes,” Worku says. 

Humanitarian assistance is subject to the limitations of the siege imposed by Israel and is not enough to help families break out of the cycle of aid dependency. All parties are encouraged to overcome differences, with the support of the international community. As an immediate measure of addressing humanitarian needs, support should be provided for continuity of essential services in the sectors of shelter, health, water and sanitation.

Facts
  • Two million Palestinians remain under siege in Gaza
  • 80 per cent of the Gazan civilians depend on humanitarian aid
  • 8135 of 11,000 houses are still totally destroyed from the 2014 war
  • There is a funding gap for about 3,800 destroyed and over 57,000 damaged homes from the 2014 war
  • 46 per cent of the cement for the 2014 housing reconstruction caseload is still required 

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