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UNRWA closes West Bank offices amid protests

Dec. 26, 2012 7:28 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 28, 2012 12:55 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- UNRWA is closing three of its West Bank offices because protests are threatening the safety of its staff, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Wednesday.

The UN Relief and Works Agency said in a statement that it was forced to close the offices after protests shifted from peaceful demonstrations to "illegal acts."

During protests, demonstrators stopped UN vehicles and their drivers, and one vehicle was chased away by protesters carrying stones. A female employee was treated badly by protesters, the agency said.

Protests have been held in refugee camps across the West Bank over UNRWA's decision not to renew the contracts of 114 employees due to budget cuts.

"UNRWA reiterates that the decision related to the 114 contracts was the best possible choice we had. We wanted to avoid harming our services as a result of budget limitations. As we made clear before, the safety of our properties and our employees is a red line," the agency said.

UNRWA asked the Palestinian Authority to put an end to the protests, which it said were disrupting operations.
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