Workers repairing a home damaged during the Israeli attack on Gaza "Operation Cast Lead", which occured during December 2008 and January 2009. Rebuilding work was completed through support provided by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Architecture for Humanity and AFSC.Photo: AFSC / AFSC Gaza
With the blockade and resulting crisis in Gaza continuing with no end in sight, the American Friends Service Committee together with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and Architecture for Humanity recently released a report urging a major home-repair initiative that will enable Palestinians in Gaza to reclaim their right to live in dignity.
In a report entitled "Gaza Repair Strategies," the AFSC and its partners propose a concerted effort of small-scale home repairs that offers viable, safe, and dignified repair options. The strategy is designed to enable Gaza residents to move toward regaining their lives and livelihoods until a permanent political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be reached..
"Much of Gaza remains in ruins," Gretchen Alther, UUSC's senior associate and a leader in the campaign to protect the human rights of the victims of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. "A severe, Israeli-imposed blockade continues to keep out most of the materials needed to repair and rebuild homes, schools, hospitals, and universities. UUSC, along with many other organizations around the world, has called this situation a crisis of human dignity."
The crisis in Gaza is political, and this political crisis has dire humanitarian consequences. The Gaza economy is stagnant, unemployment is near 50 percent, and poverty is widespread. About 80 percent of the people in Gaza depend on humanitarian aid for their survival. Much of the infrastructure, schools, hospitals, and factories in Gaza are unable to function.
Given the severity of the Gaza crisis and the sluggish rate of housing rehabilitation, the report details the most common and critical damage to private residences, and suggests viable, safe and dignified repair options, projects that use locally available resources that can be implemented by communities themselves.
"Many of these suggestions are immediately feasible, while others are ambitious and possibly uncommon, and will require new materials and funding-and the political will to make both available" the report says.
UUSC is an international human rights organization founded in 1940 that advances human rights and social justice around the world, responding to humanitarian crises, both natural and man-made, especially reaching out to neglected and marginalized populations in dire need of relief aid. For more information, visit www.uusc.org.
Architecture for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crises and brings design services to communities in need through a global network of design, development and construction professionals. For more information, visit http://architectureforhumanity.org/.