29th January, 2018
Official says 13,000 employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on Monday began a one-day strike, protesting U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to freeze funding to the agency.
Secretary-General of the UNRWA employees’ union Yousef Hamdouna told reporters that the aim of the general strike is to force donor states to pressure the U.S. to reverse its decision.
The UN agency maintains 267 schools and 21 health centres in the coastal enclave, which has suffered massive economic collapse, worsened by infrastructure damage during three wars with Israel and a lack of supplies.
The U.S. earmarked 60 million dollars for the agency for 2018, saying that 65 million dollars were withheld for “future consideration.”
The agency, which supports some five million Palestinians in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and West Bank, has launched a global funding campaign in the wake of the funding cuts.
According to spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, meanwhile, a hospital in the Gaza Strip shut down on Monday amid fuel shortages, disrupting health services for 60,000 people.
The ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra said that 66-bed Beit Hanoun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip stopped operating for not having enough fuel for its back-up generator in case of power failure.
Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on the Gaza Strip, citing security concerns, since the Islamist militant group Hamas seized control of the Strip in 2007.