After an UNRWA staff member received their letter of dismissal on Wednesday, a number of employees succeeded in stopping them from committing suicide in front of the agency’s operation manager’s office.
Terminated UNRWA employees have been staging a sit in for the past three days in an effort to convince the organization’s administration to reverse the mass terminations.
Adel Halab, a representative of UNRWA’s emergency program staff said that the agency had informed emergency staff of their termination through text message.
Secretary of the Federation of Employees, Youssef Hamdouna, said that the agency also sent letters to terminate the employment of some emergency staff as well as changing the contracts of other staff. After this information was posted at the staff gate, protesters grew more upset.
Sources said that meetings between the union of employees and the administration of UNRWA completely failed, dissolving any solutions that could have avoided downsizing and mass employee terminations.
UNRWA has been suffering from a financial deficit of $217 million after the United States withdrew nearly $300 million from its annual donations to UNRWA.
Head of the PLO refugee affairs department, Ahmed Abu Houli, called on donors to expedite the provision of additional funding to cover UNRWA’s budget deficit. He stressed that the continuation of UNRWA’s financial crisis will push the region to “place responsibility of the international community.”
Abu Houli refused to resort to UNRWA’s reduction of services to Palestinian refugees and called on them to move to seek new mechanisms to overcome their financial crisis.
“Our international organization, dedicated staff and refugees only have one option,” said UNRWA spokesperson Sami Masha’sha. “To confront this situation together and to maintain the most important work we are doing.”
Masha’sha pointed to the efforts exerted to reduce the fiscal deficit, stressing that the UNRWA administration is not looking to create a crisis and is determined to maintain its most important services to millions of refugees. He also said that efforts are underway to ensure the start of the new school year for half a million students and that basic services like health care will not be interrupted.