UN director of operations in West Bank, Scott Anderson

UNRWA: West Bank shortages due to logistical challenges

PNN/ Bethlehem/

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA Director of operations in the West Bank, Scott Anderson on Sunday told PNN that the recent shortages in healthcare services were “not for political, but rather logistial challenges” since the providers were late to hand out goods, adding to that a sharp lack of funding.

Anderson, during a media conference in the UNRWA office in  Bethlehem, said to PNN that the agency is attempting to provide many services to refugees in camps, confirming ongoing efforts to improve these services.

Attended by head of the UNRWA in southern West Bnak area, Amjad Abu Laban, the meeting tackled issue of educational services, since the parents of UN students have recently objected to the act of merging classes, adding more students to each class, which according to them can weaken the quality of education.

However, Anderson replied by saying that the merging takes place when there are 50+ students in class, and that average number in classes in 36. However, the current maximum number in each class hits 45. He also added that according to the international bank, the UN students are one-year-ahead from students studying in public PA schools.

The UNRWA is running 96 schools in the West Bank where about 50,000 students go to, from first to 9th grade.

Financial deficit 

Anderson said that the UNRWA is facing a financial deficit of $96.8 million, which is a big number that affects the providers of services. In addition, the number of patients at UN hospitals is showing increase. This year, it hit 11,500 patients, with 500 more patients than last year.

He added that the UN has added more healthcare services for refugees, including dentistry and natural therapy, and added psychosocial workers in schools.

Anderson also pledged more support regarding infrastructure and home renovations in the camps, especially in Gaza where people were forces to merge the camps with the municipalities to be able to vote in local elections.

As for issues with the union of workers, Anderson pointed out that there have been some issues between the UN and the ASU, which includes 4400 workers who have sent a 21-day-notice to the UN to escalate strike over ” low salaries and severe staff shortages,” a protest  which was started at the end of September.

The union of workers for UNRWA announced yesterday that they were planning a one-day strike in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank to protest cuts to aid and services in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.