UNRWA appeal to the Gaza Union

30 October 2011

Gaza

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 confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, 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 and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.