Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Gazans, Hamas protest UNRWA cuts

By Zuzana Brezinová - August 03, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Hamas] [Gaza] [UNRWA]


Hundreds of Palestinian refugees gathered in front of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency’s (UNRWA) headquarters in Gaza City Sunday in protest against its recent decision to reduce education and support services provided to Gazan refugees as a result of an unprecedented financial crisis that has been tormenting the UN agency since the beginning of this year.


UNRWA officials reported that the agency has enough funds to maintain its essential services such as public health protection, children immunisations and sanitary and relief programmes until the end of 2015. However, it will not be able to guarantee stable education support come September.


Following an emergency session of the Advisory Commission held in Jordan last week, UNRWA announced that it may be forced to delay the beginning of the new academic year in over 700 schools, which would affect nearly half a million children across the Middle East.


“The justifications circulated by UNRWA are groundless and unacceptable, adding that such measures are nothing but a political game designed to damage the education sector under the guise of financial and technical difficulties,” reads a Hamas press statement.


Ziad al-Sarafandi, a spokesman to the Rafah refugee camp’s community said in a speech on Sunday that, “Israelis and the West have been working for years to end UNRWA,” and now they seem to be close to achieving their goals, Ma’an News Agency reported.


UNRWA has been faced with “the most severe financial crises ever” operating on a $585-million shortfall this year, which has already forced the agency to separate 85 percent of its international personnel employed on short-term contracts and close its temporary shelters in Gaza.


Hamas has warned that these measures will, “only worsen the already aggravated situation in all areas where Palestinian refugees exist, which could result in things spinning out of control,” read Hamas’ press statement released last week.


The Islamic resistance movement also demanded the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) assume its responsibilities toward Palestinian refugees and act in their favour, alluding to resettlement of displaced Palestinians in their original hometowns and realizing their right of return.


Meanwhile, the Khair Foundation, the UK’s third largest Muslim charity, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UNRWA, in which it vowed to provide £500,000 in support of youth’s education in the Gaza Strip.


Simultaneously, UNRWA has launched a new #SOS4Gaza fundraising campaign hoping to acquire additional funding that would enable it to continue in providing assistance and basic services to approximately 80 percent of Gazans who depend almost entirely on foreign aid.


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