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UN: Gaza refugee camp to receive reconstruction funding

12:00 Apr 15 2015 Deir al-Balah Refugee Camp

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GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza's Deir al-Balah refugee camp is to receive $40 million in funding to improve conditions, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Wednesday.

The project was announced at a meeting in the camp attended by UNRWA staff and camp residents, whose feedback will reportedly be used to determine the course of the project.

The project will last three years and is funded by the Program of the Gulf Cooperation Council for the Reconstruction of Gaza.

UNRWA's Director of Operations in Gaza, Robert Turner, emphasized at the project commencement the impossibility to predict the future of the camp amid future political events, but reiterated the necessity to enable refugees to meet their basic human needs.

"We do know that standards of living and socioeconomic development cannot be separated from the living conditions of Palestine's refugees – the quality of a camp’s physical environment has a direct bearing on the quality of everyday life."

The most recent war between Israel and Palestinian militant groups completely destroyed 12,400 houses and damaged over 160,000 homes, according to a recent report released by the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA).

Despite outpouring of international support for the strip following the war, "there has been no accountability to address violations of international law, only 26.8 percent of the money has been released, reconstruction and recovery have barely begun, and people in Gaza remain in dire straits", AIDA said.

The Deir al-Balah Camp was established in 1948 and is the smallest of eight Palestine refugee camps in the Gaza Strip with more than 21,000 residents living in 0.16 square kilometers.

The camp was bombed during last summer's war, causing massive damage, death, and injury to those living in the densely populated and overcrowded space.

Over half a million Palestine refugees in Gaza live in the eight recognized refugee camps, which have one of the highest population densities in the world, according to UNWRA.

Gaza's refugee camps compose a portion of 56 total Palestinian refugee camps run by UNRWA in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the occupied West Bank.
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