The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

  1. Home
  2. Middle East and North Africa
  3. Palestine

Building back in Gaza - with mud bricks

Hassan al-Err, 66, stands outside his new mud-brick house in eastern Jabaliya, Gaza. His family had been living in a tent for the past year since their home was destroyed in Israel's war in Gaza
Hassan al-Err, 66, stands outside his new mud-brick house in eastern Jabaliya, Gaza (Suhair Karam/IRIN)

Hassan al-Err, aged 67, and his seven-member family are moving into a mud house built by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, because other building materials are not available.



The two-bedroom house in the Ezbet Abed Rabbo neighbourhood of Jabaliya town, north of Gaza City, is an improvement on the tent in which they had been living - next to the rubble of their former home.



Rebuilding homes damaged in last year’s 23-day war, has been almost impossible because Israel does not allow construction materials such as cement and steel into the Strip, saying they could be used for military purposes.



“I can’t forget how hard the past year has been for me and my family living in a tent in the cold winter and the hot summer,” al-Err told IRIN. “Of course a mud house is much better than a tent, although it’s not a real solution because I can’t build another flat on top of it for my two married sons who live in a rented house in Jabaliya town.”



Al-Err’s previous home in al-Salam neighbourhood, eastern Jabaliya, was one of 4,036 houses in Gaza which were totally destroyed or beyond repair, according to an April 2009 UNRWA and UN Development Programme assessment.



“The UN hopes to build around 120 mud brick houses for dozens of homeless families in the next few months in the Strip. Each house costs about US$10,000 and takes three months to build,” said Adnan Abu Hasna’a, an UNRWA spokesman.



While these houses were not a long-term solution for homeless families, he said, they offered better conditions than tents or partially destroyed buildings. They also provided employment for people UNRWA is training to make mud bricks and homes.



A dash of cement



Cement makes up 3 percent of each mud brick, to ensure enough strength, while keeping costs down, officials working on the project said.



International donors pledged US$4.5 billion in aid for the Palestinian Authority, much of it specifically for Gaza, at a conference in Egypt in March 2009, but little has made its way to the Strip because of the continuing blockade and bitter Palestinian divisions between political parties Hamas and Fatah.



“People in Gaza are determined to overcome all hardships and to challenge the Israeli siege imposed on the Strip,” Yousef al-Mansi, Hamas housing minister, said.



sk/ed/cb


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join