UN: Over 500,000 Palestinians Will Have no Home to Return to in Gaza

UN: Over 500,000 Palestinians Will Have no Home to Return to in Gaza

A displaced family seeks safe shelter after being forced out of their home due to relentless Israeli bombing. (Photo: Reuters)

Heavy Israeli bombardment from air, land, and sea have continued across most of the Gaza Strip, leaving tens of thousands of people without roods over their heads, said the UN OCHA in its Flash Update #83.

Citing data from UNRWA, OCHA said by the end of 2023, 1.9 million people, or nearly 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza, were estimated to be internally displaced, including some who have been displaced multiple times, as families are forced to move repeatedly in search of safety.

Nearly 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are sheltering in 155 UNRWA facilities across all five governorates. Rafah governorate is now the main refuge for those displaced, with over one million people, squeezed into an extremely overcrowded space, following the intensification of hostilities in Khan Younis and Deir al Balah and the Israeli military’s evacuation orders.

Obtaining an accurate figure of the total number of IDPs remains challenging, said OCHA.

As of 30 December, it is estimated that about 65,000 housing units across Gaza Strip have been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable and over 290,000 housing units have been damaged, according to the Government Media Office in Gaza. It is estimated that over 500,000 people will have no home to return to and that many more will be unable to return immediately due to the level of damage to surrounding infrastructure, as well as the risk posed by of Explosive Remnants of War.

On 2 January, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reiterated that there is no safe space in Gaza. "We cannot talk about safety anywhere. People are sleeping in the streets, out in the open. Some of them have not been able to even follow the evacuation orders."

Since 11 October, the Gaza Strip has been under an electricity blackout, after the Israeli authorities cut off the electricity supply, and fuel reserves for Gaza’s sole power plant were depleted. The communications and fuel shutdown continues to significantly hinder the aid community’s efforts to assess the full extent of needs in Gaza and to adequately respond to the deepening humanitarian crisis.

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