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UNRWA services reduction start to bite

Palestinians stage a protest against the US move to cut funding for UNRWA in Qalqilya, West Bank on 15 February 2018 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency]

The head of the World People’s Assembly in Support of Gaza, Dr. Essam Yousef, warned against continued reduction of the services of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), considering that its catastrophic consequences will affect all aspects of the Palestinian refugees’ lives.

In a press statement, Yousef explained that the impact of UNRWA’s reduction of its services has started impact key sectors of the lives of Palestinians who live in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, especially in the health and education sectors.

He pointed out that camps’ residents are worried about what is coming after the reduction of the number of services in the camp schools in Lebanon, such as teachers’ retirement, and stopping the number of others who are working within the daily wage system, in addition to the gradual reduction in the quantities of fuel supplied to schools, as well as closing schools and merging them with others, and stopping any new book purchase for students for the current academic year.

He added ” The refugees’ health matters are not less serious, as they have recently started suffering, during the recent period, from the cancellation of specialized contracts for a number of clinics, such as clinics of patients with heart, eye, diabetes and glands diseases, in addition to the abolition of natural deliveries, and reduction of the amounts of money of health support for patients. Adding to that, daily workers and employees are being fired without finding alternatives.”

Read: Return us to our homes before closing UNRWA, say Palestinian refugees

Yousef called on the international community to take the necessary measures to stop the deterioration on the level of the provided services to millions of Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza and Diaspora countries, which were barely sufficient to meet the families’ minimum living needs.

He stressed that the catastrophic effects of the reduction of humanitarian services for Palestinian refugees would go beyond the refugee community inside the camps and would reach their host communities, as such effects would appear in humanitarian, security and political aspects.

Yousef reiterated his demand that donor countries compensate for the lack of US aids to UNRWA, which have been frozen under US President Donald Trump’s decision, and warned of the direct humanitarian and political consequences of this decision in the short and long run.

UNRWA provides relief and humanitarian support for more than 5 million Palestinian refugees living in the Palestinian territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip) and refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The Agency was established in 1949 following the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1948, one of whose tragic consequences was the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their towns and villages.

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