The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) confirmed that an agreement was reached between the Agency and the UNRWA Jordan Field Staff Union, ending the labour strike that began yesterday. The measures adopted that brought about a resolution include adjustments to the Agency’s salaries to mirror recent salary increases for public school teachers in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Agency management’s decision to conduct an immediate salary survey to assess how the recent wage increase in Jordan will impact salaries in UNRWA. A similar agreement was reached with the UNRWA Amman Headquarters Union yesterday.
“The Agency has taken important steps in the interest of staff at a time of significant financial challenges,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. “I would like to particularly thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Ayman Safadi, whose extraordinary personal commitment and support were key to the positive resolution of the situation. I also thank the Director-General of Department of Palestine Affairs, Mr. Rafiq Kherfan for his mediation and the very important role he played throughout the discussions.”
Outstanding joint efforts by UNRWA management, the staff unions and the Government of Jordan and the commitment of all parties to the rights and dignity of Palestine refugees have kept the focus of the discussions on the continuity of vital humanitarian services, the accountability towards donors and the wellbeing of Palestine refugees.
“We are very grateful to all those who have played a positive role and have allowed us to move beyond points of disagreement,” said Mr. Krähenbühl. In any strike, the possible impact on the refugees weighs heavily on us – meeting their needs is the Agency’s priority. We would now like to ensure that we all go back to focusing on our responsibility towards Palestine refugees and towards ensuring that all vital services are uninterrupted.”
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 5.5 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem 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.