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 funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, and financial support has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, deepening poverty and conflict. As a result, the UNRWA General Fund, which supports core essential services and most staffing costs, operates with a large deficit. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large deficits, are funded through separate funding portals. 

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

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