The United Nations agency helping to rebuild war-ravaged Gaza has suspended an aid program to Palestinian civilians because of a nearly $600 million shortfall of funds.
Robert Turner, director in Gaza of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said Tuesday that "virtually none" of the $5.4 billion pledged at a Cairo conference in October was received.
"This is distressing and unacceptable," said Turner. He also said it was unclear why the funding had not been forthcoming.
The nearly two-month-long war between Israel and Hamas militants last year obliterated entire Palestinian neighborhoods in Gaza. Turner said that people are sleeping this winter among the rubble and that children have died of hypothermia. People are desperate, he said.
Turner said the agency urgently needs $100 million between now and the end of March to repair damaged homes and provide people with funds to rent places to live.