Statement on the Ongoing West Bank Area Staff Strike

06 January 2014

East Jerusalem

Today UNRWA management met with a group of union representatives and Palestinian legislators whose positive involvement in helping to resolve the strike is appreciated. UNRWA wishes to reiterate that regrettably salary increases across the board, either as a percentage or a lump sum, are not possible at this time because our staff in Palestine are paid over twenty per cent more on average than the Palestinian Authority pays in equivalent jobs. In the current circumstances such increases are financially impossible. 
On the question of personnel with limited duration contracts under the emergency Job Creation Project, management brought to the meeting new ideas on how to find solutions for these individuals, in spite of the shortage of funds under this project. We reiterated that this issue can be further explored to the satisfaction of all. 
On the question of former or actual staff members detained by the authorities, we wish to make clear that there has been no change in the Agency’s policy which is in line with the broader United Nations policy. We deplore statements that we have abused the rights of staff. We wish to stress that in these cases in which staff are detained, the Agency continues to uphold their rights and only when someone has been found after a thorough review to have violated  UN rules and regulations is disciplinary or other action taken.
Management reiterates its firm commitment to finding a solution to ending the strike  and calls on the unions to end the strike, allowing for the resumption of normal operations for the benefit of all refugees.

more about strike .

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106  million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications & Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724