ASH SHUJA'IYEH, GAZA CITY
Background: Children riding on a vehicle; behind, damaged buildings from hostilities. Al Sha’af in At Tuffah area, Gaza. February 2015. Photo by OCHA
Restrictions on the import of goods, including basic construction materials, imposed by Israel as part of its blockade, have complicated, delayed and, in some cases prevented reconstruction and repair of destroyed or severely damaged homes.
In other cases, where goods are available, families lack the financial resources to purchase them due to the poor economic situation in Gaza caused largely by the years-long blockade.
Fatma Saudi, 58, a widow and mother of eight, is from one of the worst affected areas in the 2014 hostilities. Her home was severely damaged and the family was displaced for more than six months.
After the ceasefire, she stayed with her three unmarried sons in two pre-fabricated housing units. Living conditions were crowded and extremely cold, so they spend most of their time outside..
One of Fatma’s sons, Nour Din, now 15 years old, has Downs’ Syndrome and attends a special school.
When we met them in 2015, he was still searching through the rubble every day for his laptop, which he lost when their home was hit.
Fatma was afraid that Nour would be exposed to explosive remnants of war as the area was still full of rubble from the hostilities.
During the winter storm in January 2015, it was unbearable to stay in the pre-fabricated housing unit.
Fatma suffered from severe back pains and was badly in need of an operation. She and her children relocated temporarily to her mother’s house.
❝We really need materials to cover the outside area between the two rooms of the caravan, to keep the children safe and offer a little privacy. The situation here is very, very difficult,❞ she said.
❝They told us to evacuate the home as it is uninhabitable and potentially dangerous, but we have nowhere else to go and no money to rent so what can we do?❞ said her brother Abdallah, who was still living in the damaged home.
Fatma points to the skeleton of a building 50 metres away: ❝That was our home,❞ she says quietly.