Ongoing UNRWA staff strike has severe consequences on the health and education of Palestine Refugees in the West Bank

05 April 2023

From Adam Bouloukos, Director of UNRWA Affairs in the West Bank  


After halting service delivery for two weeks at the end of January, the UNRWA local Staff Union in the West Bank resumed a general strike on 4 March, as part of an ongoing labor dispute regarding a salary increase.

As a result, UNRWA has not been able to deliver basic services to nearly 900,000 refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem with severe consequences on their health and education.  

UNRWA has been engaging for months with staff union representatives, and continued to highlight the severe financial constraints the agency is facing, including starting this year with a US$ 75 million debt.   

Currently, 90 schools have been closed for at least 30 days, leaving nearly 45,000 children on the streets at the worst possible time as violence escalates in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. We run the risk of high drop-out rates and significant learning losses. Children belong in schools where they learn and flourish and not on the streets where they might fall prey to exploitation and abuse.  

Chronically sick and elderly Palestine refugees are not being provided with essentials medications.

Residents of the camps and increasingly the surrounding areas are facing significant health and environmental risks as hundreds of tons of solid waste are piling up.   

UNRWA fully respects the right of staff who choose to strike, and equally respects the rights of staff who choose to work. About 25 per cent of our staff are not on strike and would like to continue providing services to the refugees. However, many are being impeded from doing their work. That is simply not right. The only function of UNRWA is to make every effort to deliver services to Palestine Refugees.

UNRWA calls on the refugee community, advocates, and representatives, including in the camps, to support us in delivering services to Palestine Refugees.



Background Information: 

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.

UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.


For more information, please contact:

Kazem Abu Khalaf
Head Field Public Information office in the West Bank