DAMASCUS, SYRIA (6:28 A.M)- Protests erupted yesterday, in front of the UNRWA Headquarters in Gaza, after announcements of cuts to come in light of the agencies deficit in funding.
According to Gaza media, close to a thousand employees of UNRWA in Gaza gathered yesterday (Thursday) to detest the announcement of cuts. The Head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Pierre Krahenbuhl, stated in a letter of warning that, due to the with-holding of US funds from the Agency, the cuts would include the areas of employment, Mental Health, Housing and other Aid programs.
It has been alleged that UNRWA plans to terminate the employment contracts of 22,000 Palestinian workers in Gaza, along with the ending of all aid programs in the besieged coastal enclave. The allegations would mean catastrophe for the people of Gaza whom are approximately 80% dependent upon International Aid. Safa News Agency reported that UNRWA’s Official spokesman has denied these claims, calling the rumor started by the Employee’s Union “Incorrect”.
UNRWA, started by the United Nations General Assembly in 1949 to manage and aid Palestinian Refugees, is currently at a 215 million dollar deficit due to with-holding of US funding. The United States withheld all but 60 million of its pledge to UNRWA, leaving the Agency with little time to find funding and few options to choose from.
UNRWA has already begun its cuts, having ended food aid programs to approximately 150,000 Palestinian refugees in the West Bank. The cuts it will take in the future are not clearly defined but are stated to be inevitable.
After the tightening of the Israeli enforced Illegal Blockade of the Gaza Strip, through the closure of the Karem Abu Salem (commercial) Crossing into Gaza, the economy is expected to break down further. Prices will inevitably rise as flow goods in and out of the strip have now been stopped, leaving many to rely upon International Aid for survival.
Without Agencies like UNRWA, not even International Aid will help the people of Gaza, they will be left to starve and die.