UNRWA Suspends Operations in Northern West Bank for One Day

According to Palestinian refugee committees in the West Bank, The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) had suspended its services in northern West Bank for one day over an “aid distribution dispute.”

Husni Odeh, a spokesperson for refugee camp committees in the northern West Bank stated that UNRWA had officially notified the refugee camp committees of its decision to suspend services until further notice.

The suspension excluded the waste collection sector and included the education and health sectors – the largest two sectors at UNRWA.

Chris Gunness, UNRWA spokesperson, confirmed to Ma’an that the agency had suspended some of its services in the West Bank for one day following what he called “violent threats and intimidation against our staff.”

In April, the UN agency decided to halt its food distribution program in the camps and replace it with a cash-card system, causing concern among UNRWA’s Palestinian employees, who said the move jeopardized the jobs of 300 to 400 people who work at the organization’s distribution centers.

Close to 775,000 Palestinians are registered as refugees to the UN in the occupied West Bank. UNRWA provides services in 19 camps in the Palestinian territory.

The Gaza Strip has seen large protests last year organized by the Union of the UNRWA workers over a plan to reduce services provided to Palestinian refugees. UNRWA declared a plan to reduce its services claiming that it was “budget-deficit-related”, which Palestinians thought was politically motivated and part of a larger plan to withdraw from the Palestinian Territories.

UNRWA was established in December 1949 and was intended to provide jobs on public works projects and direct relief for Palestinian refugees who ended up in dozens of refugee camps in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and neighboring Arab countries, following the creation of Israel.

(PC, Maan)

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