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Gazans plan new round of protests against UNRWA cuts

Aug. 10, 2015 7:23 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 11, 2015 10:09 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian factions together with committees representing UNRWA employees on Monday agreed to ramp up protests against the embattled UN agency for Palestinian refugees, an official with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said.

Mahmoud Khalaf said that factions had agreed to stage a rally next Monday in front of the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City, as well as a number of sit-in protests outside UNRWA offices and UNRWA-run schools in refugee camps across the Gaza Strip.

Khalaf described ongoing cuts to UNRWA's services as "unjust," and claimed that they were part of a plot to undermine the Palestinian refugees' right of return to land inside Israel from which they were expelled in 1948.

He said that "the alleged financial crisis in UNRWA" had been made up as a pretext to shut down the UN agency and forego the refugees' right of return.

UNRWA was established in 1948 to provide relief to more than 700,000 Palestinians who were violently expelled from what became the state of Israel.

With no solution to the Palestinian refugee problem, the UN General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate every two years.

In recent months, however, the agency has been struggling to secure donor funding, forcing it to scale back on its core services, including education, in addition to its emergency relief programs.

Last month, UNRWA said that unless funding was secured by the middle of August to cover a $101 million deficit, "the financial crisis may force the suspension of services relating to the Agency's education program."

"This would mean a delay in the school year for half a million students attending some 700 schools and 8 vocational training centers across the Middle East."

Khalaf said that the education crisis was discussed during Monday's meeting, in addition to other serious issues facing Palestinian refugees and employees of UNRWA.

The DFLP official said that "depriving half a million Palestinian school children of education and leaving them to face the unknown future adds to the suffering of refugees."

Earlier this month, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said: "Nothing is more important for these children in terms of their dignity and identity than the education they receive. We are simply not allowed to let them down."
Billy Bragg / UK
Who paid for the 850,000 Jewish refugees absorbed (without the help of UNWRA) by Israel, that were displaced and expelled from Muslim countries, and had their vibrant rich cultures destroyed?
10/08/2015 19:54
Outlier / USA
Gazans - and their Hamas leaders - should not have blown all that money and all that goodwill on a ill-conceived and disastrous conflict. UNRWA owes you nothing.
10/08/2015 20:01
George / England
The Muslims have huge wealth - they could have found ways of saving Arab lives. What UNWRA has done for Arabs is peanuts, compared with what the emir of Qatar could do, and could have done.
11/08/2015 10:44
Legal Eagle / Australia
#1 -the Zionist occupiers of course.
#2 - UNRWA may not owe them anything, but the European colonoial powers that enabled the Zionist occupation do.
11/08/2015 11:26
Brian Cohen / Israel
UNWRA should be fully funded, but only on the condition that Hamas devise an implement an economic growth plan. Hamas on principle does not want economic development because they are happy to be a welfare child paid for by Qatar and Iran.
11/08/2015 11:56
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