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UNRWA employees protest against reduced services

May 27, 2015 at 11:08 am

The General Syndication Congress for employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has warned that it will escalate protest measures should the organisation not cancel its decision to reduce the level of services provided to Palestinian refugees.

In a statement reported by Jordan’s Al-Ghad newspaper, the congress said that there are constant meetings via video conferencing across UNRWA’s five areas of operation.

“The cuts include services provided to the refugees, at the top of which is education, which is leading to class sizes to increase to 50 per shift,” said the congress statement. “In addition, most classes are in old schools which work two shifts a day.”

Funding cuts have meant a halt to recruitment of new staff in education, health and aid. More than 1,000 teachers have had their contracts cancelled. The congress fears that academic achievement will be affected, unemployment will rise and UNRWA as an education provider will cease to exist.

Calling for UNRWA to un-freeze the salaries of local employees, the congress said that it should also revise its policy regarding the recruitment of international employees based on need. “Most of the [international employees] are not in the education, health or aid sectors. This depletes the budget of the organisation and the budgets of the projects for which they are recruited.”

It called on the host countries, NGOs and local committees to put pressure on UNRWA over the decision to reduce services. Donor countries, especially, added the congress statement, should fulfil their pledges to UNRWA to enable the agency to provide a full range of services to the refugees, the purpose for which it was established.