UNRWA staff today held a demonstration outside UN body’s headquarters in Gaza City to protest against the agency’s policy of cuts.
Thousands of staff members demonstrated calling for the agency to revoke its decision to dismiss them.
They warned that if their demands were ignored the next sit-in would be held inside the headquarters of the UN Commissioner-General in Gaza, Matthias Shamali, calling for organisers of the Great March of Return to support them and hold Friday protests under the banner “No to UNRWA cuts”.
They also said they would organise a sit-in at the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing if the crisis over their rights is not resolved.
Protesters said thousands of students are unsure if they will be able to return to schools when the new academic year begins as a result of the ongoing cuts to UNRWA.
Last month UNRWA warned that it had no budget for the third and fourth rounds of its programme, as it is currently suffering from a $246 million deficit. If funding is not allocated, Deputy Head of UNRWA’s Workers Union, Amal Batch said, the school year and other programmes would come to an end, this would have “catastrophic” consequences on the Palestinian cause.
UNRWA has already stopped a number of its programmes and reviewed its policy regarding the distribution of food assistance and other programmes, leading to major cuts which have seen 150,000 refugees in the occupied West Bank no longer receiving food aid.
The US administration has provided only about $60 million in assistance to the UNRWA this year — far short of the $365 million Washington has pledged.