Thousands of employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) staged a protest in Gaza City on Wednesday to protest the agency’s plan to scale down its operations.
At the protest, which was organized by Gaza’s UNRWA employees’ union, demonstrators chanted slogans demanding the agency continue providing services to Palestinian refugees in the besieged coastal territory.
According to the union, 13,000 UNRWA staff members took part in Wednesday’s demonstration.
“We reject all obstacles that have been set before the UNRWA administration — as well as those responsible for them,” union head Amir al-Meshaal told protesters.
“We strongly oppose any reduction to UNRWA’s services and demand that the rights of 13,000 UNRWA employees be respected,” he added.
Al-Meshaal called on the UN to find a “permanent solution” to UNRWA’s chronic funding shortfall so that the agency “can’t be subjected to political blackmail”.
On Aug. 31, Washington cut all funding to UNRWA, to which the U.S. had been — by far — the largest contributor.
Established in 1949, UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
Later this month, donor countries plan to meet in New York to discuss the cash-strapped refugee agency’s future.