Palestinian factions yesterday launched an initiative which is aimed at urging the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Refugees (UNRWA) to carry out its duties of helping millions of Palestinian refugees.
“The first protest will start in front of the UNRWA headquarters in the occupied Gaza Strip on Wednesday, with the participation of factional and popular groups,”, Hamas spokesperson, Hazem Kassem, said on Twitter, adding that the organisation’s work “must continue away from political biases.”
Kassem pointed out that the demonstrations would continue “across the Palestinian territories,” explaining that the they aimed at “emphasising the Palestinian refugees’ rights.”
The official noted that civil action was planned “this month in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.”
UNRWA was created in 1949 to provide assistance and protection for the Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their homes to make way for the creation of the state of Israel.
The organisation currently offers its services to about 5.3 million Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
The agency has faced severe financial difficulties since the US administration of President Donald Trump stopped donations altogether in 2018. Though some of these funds have been reinstated, they have failed to fill the funding gap.
Moreover, the United Arab Emirates sharply reduced its funding of the body in 2020, an UNRWA spokesman revealed earlier this year. Sami Mshasha said that the UAE donated $51.8 million to UNRWA in 2018 and again in 2019, but in 2020 it gave the agency just $1 million.
While the UK had more than halved its funds for UNRWA from £42.5 million ($57.2 million) in 2020 to £20.8 million ($28 million) in 2021. The UK was the third largest overall donor to UNRWA in 2020, but its latest cut puts it in the second tier of contributors.