2015: a hard year for Palestinians living under the Israeli blockade in the Gaza Strip

PNN/Bethlehem

2015 was not an easy year for the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip under the Israeli blockade: high rates of unemployment and no money to rebuild their destroyed houses are just two of the many issues that they face daily there.

According to the Palestinian Information Center (PIC), in a report issued on Thursday, the National Movement Commission for Breaking the Siege and Reconstruction stated that the average per capita income in Gaza during 2015 had declined to less than 700 US dollars, which is the lowest in the role Middle East.

The unemployment rate also rose to world-record levels after it became 45 percent among the entire residents and 60 percent among the young people, while 40 percent of the population now live under the poverty line and 80 percent depends on humanitarian aid, the Commission added.

Not just the unemployment is a severe issue in the Gaza Strip, but also, after the Operation Protective Edge in 2014, thousands of houses were destroyed and more than 2.000 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli occupation forces.

According to UNRWA, during the 50 days from 8 July until 26 August 2014, 2,251 Palestinians were killed, 1,462 of them are believed to be civilians, including 551 children and 299 women.

“During the violence, 118 UNRWA installations were damaged, including 83 schools and 10 health centres. Over 12,600 housing units were totally destroyed and almost 6,500 sustained severe damage. Almost 150,000 additional housing units sustained various degrees of damage and remained inhabitable. The conflict led to a homelessness crisis in Gaza, with almost 500,000 persons displaced at its peak; thousands remain displaced to this day”, UNRWA reported.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Agency has said it will provide financial support of 1.77 million dollars for the owners of destroyed houses.

It stated that these funds would be given to 7,443 Palestinian families in different areas of the Gaza Strip.

The agency also asserted that the aid would be earmarked for emergency housing purposes, which includes home repairs and reconstruction as well as temporary accommodation solutions.

UNRWA also launched its annual winter fundraising campaign titled #shareyourwarmth to support the Agency’s winterization efforts for Palestinian refugees in Syria, Gaza, the occupied West Bank, Lebanon and Jordan.

According to the Agency’s website, the campaign was launched on December 1st and goes until the end of February 2016.

It aims to raise awareness of the dire humanitarian situation of vulnerable Palestine refugees during the winter season – particularly the families who have lost their homes or have been displaced due to conflict – and to raise US$ 2 million to help them endure the coming months.