"UNRWA Completes its Assessment of Rafah Destruction"

Gaza City – October 13, 2003

Relief teams working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) have completed their assessment of the number of homes and refugee shelters demolished during the Israeli military incursion during October 9-11, 2003.

UNRWAfs relief workers have confirmed that in total 114 refugee shelters have been demolished or rendered uninhabitable. In addition, six houses belonging to non-refugee families were destroyed. A further 117 buildings sustained some form of damage, but can be lived in.

The Agencyfs relief and social services office in Rafah camp is struggling to deal with the demand for assistance from the newly homeless but has so far established that 1240 individuals have lost their homes. The office had to be closed for some time today (Monday) to allow staff to cope and that figure may be revised upwards in the coming days. The figure of 1,500 issued on Sunday, 12 October was an initial estimate based on the number of homes demolished multiplied by average family size.

The recent incursion brings the total number of Palestinians who have been made homeless in Rafah since the beginning of the current intifada to 7,523. The total for the whole of the Gaza Strip now stands at 11,987.

UNRWA has been providing food, in the form of hot meals, and temporary shelter, in the form of tents, to those unable to find immediate accommodation. The Agency is also providing eligible refugees with cash assistance to allow them to pay for rental accomodation, however three years of demolition operations has created an acute shortage of property in Rafah.