DAMASCUS, SYRIA (9:00 A.M)- Protests erupted in Gaza City this Wednesday after UNRWA – the UN’s Palestinian Refugee Agency – took the decision to destroy the jobs of almost 1000 Gaza employees.
UNRWA has officially ordered the dismantlement of its mental health program in Gaza, terminating the contracts of 125 employees immediately. Workers who had been employed for upwards of 25 years were let go on the spot, prompting one man to attempt to burn himself alive in protest.
Eight-hundred employees have also had their contracts downgraded, hundreds have been transferred.
The protests in response to UNRWA’s cuts, this Wednesday, were more heated and numerous than previous demonstrations in the weeks prior.
Earlier this month, rumors circulated throughout Gaza’s media, speculating that UNRWA would cut 22,000 jobs and eventually cut all of its Gaza Programs. The claim, originally made by the Workers Union in Gaza, was denied by UNRWA officials.
These recent cuts have sparked outrage in Gaza, as the speculation as to wether UNRWA will soon exist at all, is beginning to become a popularized conversation in the besieged coastal enclave.
UNRWA is currently short of upwards of 250 million in its annual budget, due to the abstention of US committed aid to the organization. The US’s Trump administration decided to withhold its aid to the UN Agency, in response to the Palestinian Authorities refusal to comply with what they called “the peace process”. The Palestinian Authority does not rule over, nor manage UNRWA, the Agency is part of the United Nations and is set up to help Palestinian refugees.