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UNRWA suspends assistance for Gaza repairs, cites lack of funds

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has suspended cash assistance for tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip for repairs to damaged or destroyed homes, due to a lack of funds.

UNRWA made the announcement this morning saying that out of the total $720 million required, the agency had only received $135 million in pledges.

According to UNRWA: "While some funds remain available to begin the reconstruction of totally destroyed homes," funding "to support repairs and rental subsidies" has been exhausted.

Gaza director Robert Turner described a situation where "thousands of families" are suffering through a "cold winter with inadequate shelter".

"People are literally sleeping amongst the rubble, children have died of hypothermia."

Turner expressed concern that if "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," then "quiet will not last."

UNRWA also noted that if it cannot continue to provide rental subsidies, then large numbers may return to the collective centres where almost 12,000 displaced Palestinians still seek shelter.

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