Gaza staff at UN agency for Palestinians strike over job cuts

A Palestinian man walks past a closed health centre that run by United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) during a strike of all UNRWA institutions in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on September 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2018

Gaza staff at UN agency for Palestinians strike over job cuts

  • The one-day strike closed more than 250 UNRWA schools in Gaza, as well as medical centers and food aid distribution points
  • The United States has traditionally been UNRWA’s largest funder, providing around $350 million a year

GAZA CITY: Staff at the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees went on strike in the Gaza Strip on Monday to protest against job losses and US funding cuts.
The one-day strike closed more than 250 UNRWA schools in Gaza, as well as medical centers and food aid distribution points.
The United States has traditionally been UNRWA’s largest funder, providing around $350 million (300 million euros) a year.
But President Donald Trump has cut all support, sparking a funding crisis.
More than 250 jobs have been cut in Gaza and the West Bank so far, while hundreds of full-time roles have become part-time.
The refugee agency’s labor union is demanding the job cuts be reversed and its leaders say the strike could be the first of a number of measures.
A small protest took place outside the agency’s Gaza headquarters.
“The strike comes in light of the (UNRWA) administration’s lack of responsiveness to the demands of the employees’ union and their insistence on not solving their problems,” Amal Al-Batsh, deputy head of the union, said in a statement.
UNRWA says the funding deficit caused by the Trump administration’s withdrawal of support is so severe cuts are unavoidable.
Around 13,000 people work for the agency in Gaza, where more than two-thirds of the roughly two million residents are eligible for aid.
UNRWA says more than 200,000 Palestinians attend its schools in the strip.


Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

Updated 29 October 2020

Lebanon sets out its claim in maritime border talks

  • A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”

BEIRUT: Lebanese negotiators laid out their claim to maritime territory on Wednesday as they began a second round of talks with Israel over their disputed sea border.
The contested zone in the Mediterranean is an estimated 860 square kilometers known as Block 9, which is rich in oil and gas. Future negotiations will also tackle the countries’ land border.
Wednesday’s meeting took place at the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) amid tight security. An assistant of the UN special coordinator for Lebanon chaired the session, and the US Ambassador to Algeria, John Desrocher, was the mediator.
A military source told Arab News: “The Lebanese side considers that Israel, through the border line it drew for itself, is eating into huge areas of Lebanese economic waters.”
The Lebanese delegation produced maps and documents to support their claim to the disputed waters.
In indirect talks between Lebanon and Israel in 2012, US diplomat Frederick Hoff proposed “a middle line for the maritime borders, whereby Lebanon would get 58 percent of the disputed area and Israel would be given the remaining 42 percent, which translates to 500 square kilometers for Lebanon and 300 square kilometers for Israel.”
On the eve of Wednesday’s meeting, Lebanese and Israeli officials met to discuss a framework to resolve the conflict through the implementation of UN Resolution 1701.
UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col praised the “constructive role that both parties played in calming tensions along the Blue Line” and stressed the necessity of “taking proactive measures and making a change in the prevailing dynamics regarding tension and escalation.”