(Photo Credits: Middle East Monitor)
Employees of the UNRWA began a partial strike on 23 January in protest of the dismissal of the leader of the Employees Union in the occupied West Bank, according to Sputnik.
“The strike, which was described as comprehensive for employees in the West Bank, stopped services provided to one million Palestinian refugees there, including schools, health clinics, and food distribution centers,” according to Adnan Abu Hasna, spokesman for the UNRWA.
He added, “The strike came because of the demands of the Union of Arab Employees in the agency for an increase in salaries,” explaining that “the agency called on the Union to conclude that the solution should be through negotiation and not through stopping the services provided to the refugees, as UNRWA witnessed many protests that were resolved in the end.”
The Union stated that the partial strike would affect offices that provide services and maintenance, support micro-projects, and distribution centers for food. It is mandatory for all personnel, including education administrators, to vacate the premises.
Around noon local time, the UNRWA regional office was closed, and staff members held a news conference in front of the organization’s main entrance.
The message further emphasized that action would continue until the employees’ just demands were met.
On 17 January, the agency announced it is facing a crippling financial deficit due to a significant lack of donations and funding.
The coordinator of the Joint Refugee Committee, Mahmoud Khalaf, told Russian media that the current year is “the most difficult for UNRWA in terms of the financial crisis it faces” and that it came into 2023 with a deficit of $80 million, representing the “largest in decades.”
“The financial deficit comes in light of a real crisis and the reluctance of many countries to make pledges to UNRWA … [representing] serious repercussions on services to Palestinian refugees, especially health and education,” he added.
In 2018, former US President Donald Trump severed all US funding for the agency, coinciding with the ‘deal of the century,’ the Trump administration’s so-called ‘peace plan.’