UNRWA appeal to the Gaza Union

30 October 2011


UNRWA appeals to the staff union in Gaza not to drag some 219,000 innocent children into their escalating campaign of industrial action. The children of Gaza, living under the Israeli blockade and the constant threat of military action have suffered enough. This industrial action compounds their collective punishment. Along with the parents of Gaza and all those who believe in a dignified future for the next generation, we appeal to the union to call off the strike which is damaging the education of our children in 243 UNRWA schools. They have already lost two full days of classes because of your decision to strike. Don’t punish them further.

This attack on the education of our children may soon become an attack on health care for the sick, as the union is threatening to take their dispute to 20 UNRWA health centres, deliberately denying health care to more than one million Palestine refugees. Education and health are basic rights, long denied by the punitive Israeli blockade. The union must not reinforce this and support the denial of rights to the people of Gaza.

The solution is simple. Call off the strike and respect all UNRWA‘s policies, procedures and decisions. The union are playing dangerously into the hands of those who seek to defund and destroy UNRWA. We urge the union to call off this action and put the refugees at the centre of UNRWA’s agenda. We make this appeal for the sake of the refugees, for the sake of our children and the sake of the Agency itself.

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