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Lebanon: Palestinian refugees go on general strike

January 18, 2022 at 9:10 am

Palestinian refugees hold Palestinian flags during a demonstration in support of Palestinians in Gaza City, at Ain al-Hilweh Refugee Camp in Sidon, Lebanon. [Ali Hankir – Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon went on a general strike on Monday in protest at the alleged inaction of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in relation to the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant in refugee camps, Quds Press has reported.

The head of the Teachers’ Union, Fatah Sharif, placed full responsibly on UNRWA for the deterioration of the health crisis in the camps. He told Quds Press that the lack of an adequate response by UNRWA is a “silent killer”, and accused the agency of “covering up field data” and facts. “There is a complete lack of awareness leaflets, statistics of the number of infected people, and information about people who mixed with infected teachers and students.”

Sharif insisted that UNRWA is “complicit with other parties against the health security of the Palestinians.” He called for all the Palestinians with power or influence to “intervene urgently”.

Hussam Abu Zeiter from Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp pointed out that the issue affects Palestinians in the informal “gatherings” as well as refugee camps in Lebanon. “UNRWA should take the necessary protective measures to maintain the health and safety of the refugee students and their families,” he said. “It should also provide teaching staff to cover for those of their colleagues who have to isolate or are ill with the virus.”

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live in twelve UN-registered refugee camps as well as numerous informal, unregistered “gatherings” around the country. They suffer from very bad economic and humanitarian conditions that have been exacerbated by the current political, economic and medical crises in the host country.

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