Palestinian Protest in Gaza Against Cuts in UNRWA Budget

Photo: M Shaaban/MINA

Gaza, MINA – The Joint Refugee Committee organized a demonstration in front of UNRWA headquarters in Gaza, to confirm its support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Refugees (UNRWA) and its hope for the success of the donors’ conference held today, Tuesday in the Belgian capital, Brussels, in providing financial support to bridge the deficit in UNRWA’s budget and providing a new and sustainable financial support mechanism that responds to the Palestinian refugees’ requirements.

Yusra Al-Naqada, a member of the Union of UNRWA workers, told MINA, “The main objective of today’s march, in conjunction with the donors’ conference in Brussels, is to demand for a sustainable budget for UNRWA, like other international relief organizations for the relief of Palestinian refugees, in accordance with Resolution 194 Article 11, which states relief and work for Palestinian refugees until the Palestinian issue is resolved and they return to their homes.”

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She explained that this stand came as a protest against the systematic cutbacks followed by the UNRWA administration for years on the food basket provided to the Palestinian refugees, and the cuts it exercises against employees, which made the Palestinian refugee suffer from extreme poverty.

Al-Naqqad mentioned to MINA that other cutbacks followed by UNRWA, such as cutbacks in educational services, said, “Currently, the number of students in classes is from 45 to 50 students per class, and this is illegal and the student does not get a good educational result, and this huge number is aimed at reducing teachers.”

She added that despite the resumption of US support to UNRWA’s budget, as it is one of the largest supporters, the consequences of the crisis that the Agency has suffered over the past 3 years are still up to this moment. This is because a number of donor countries have cut their support in half, and there are countries that have completely stopped supporting UNRWA.

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For his part, Walid Al-Awad, representative of the Palestinian People’s Party, stressed the importance of this conference in supporting the Palestinian cause and reducing the suffering of Palestinian refugees that has been going on for seventy-three years, by providing multi-year, sustainable financial support to UNRWA to rid it of its recurring financial crises, which are likely to have political backgrounds aimed at the infringement of the rights of refugees and Resolution 194, which guarantees the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their original homelands.

Walid warned against the failure of the conference, as it has serious repercussions on the presence and future of the refugees, as it will create instability in the region. He indicated the international community’s lack of seriousness in ending the suffering of the Palestinian refugees cause and help them obtain their basic legitimate rights.

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During a press conference, Al-Awad called on the participating and non-participating countries to fulfill their financial obligations and pledges to support the UNRWA budget and close the financial deficit, and to ensure the sustainability of this support.

Al-Awad called for raising funding from international donors and expanding the donor base, in line with the growing needs of refugees, whose economic and living conditions have worsened over the past years.

For his part, the liberated prisoner Muhammad al-Aswad, representative of the Haifa Association in Homeland and Diaspora, said, “We affirm that the right of return will not be given up. We are here in a protest against UNRWA because it is biased towards the Israeli occupation and deals immorally with our people for canceling the right of return and attacking the Palestinian refugee issue. (L-K-G/RE1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)