Reconstruction of destroyed homes finally begins in Gaza
The construction materials needed to repair the enormous damage resulting from the 2014 hostilities have been entering Gaza since October 2014 under the framework of the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM). To date, over 90,000 households have accessed construction materials, under a process known as the “shelter repair stream” with new submissions and processing and verification of applicants ongoing. According to the latest Shelter Cluster update, over 157,000 housing units were damaged to some degree, ranging from minor to severe, during the 2014 hostilities.
The Shelter Cluster also estimates that approximately 12,580 homes were completely destroyed during the 2014 hostilities. While the “shelter repair stream” has been gathering pace, the first year since the start of the hostilities passed without a single destroyed home being reconstructed, and an estimated 100,000 IDPs remain homeless. Key reasons include Israel’s longstanding restrictions on the import of building materials defined as “dual use items”; the slow pace of disbursement of pledges made by member states for reconstruction; and the inability of the Palestinian Government of National Consensus to assume effective government functions in Gaza, due to the ongoing internal divide. On present progress, it will take years to address the massive reconstruction and repair needs, adding to the general frustration of the population following years of movement restrictions and rising unemployment and poverty.
The introduction of the “residential stream” of the GRM in July has enabled beneficiaries in Gaza to access materials for the reconstruction of homes that were completely destroyed. The “residential stream” will also permit the construction of new housing, which is crucial to meet the housing deficit from natural growth and from previous conflicts, estimated cumulatively at around 70,000 housing units. As of 21 August, some 2,242 beneficiaries were participating in the “residential stream”, including over 700 who have already procured the required construction materials and another 1,500 approved to purchase through authorized vendors.