UNRWA Announces Layoffs, Workers Call for Strike in Gaza

YERUSHALAYIM -

The threatened cutbacks at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) arrived on Wednesday, as it announced layoffs of 250 workers in Yehudah and Shomron and Gaza, the AFP reported.

More than 500 other full-time staff will be offered part-time contracts, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said in a statement.

The job cuts were the first since the U.S. said it would give the agency only $60 million this year, down from $360 million the previous year.

The U.N. has mounted an international fundraising campaign to compensate for the U.S. funds, but so far has not managed to find the requisite monies.

Gunness’s statement said the U.S. cut posed an “existential threat” to UNRWA.

Amal al-Batsh, deputy head of UNRWA’s staff union, condemned the cuts. “The decisions are unfair and will adversely affect employees and their families,” she said.

The union called for a general strike by employees to be held on Thursday in Gaza.