World, Middle East

Palestinians in West Bank decry UNRWA service reductions

Washington recently announced plans to withhold $65 million in aid to the UN refugee agency

Palestinians in West Bank decry UNRWA service reductions Palestinians stage a protest against US move to cut funding for the Palestinian Authority (PA) and UN refugee agency UNRWA in Qalqilya, West Bank on February 15, 2018.

NABLUS, Palestine

Dozens of Palestinian protesters on Wednesday forcibly shut the office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the West Bank city of Nablus to protest the recent reduction of services provided by the agency to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Emad Shatwi, a member of a popular committee established recently to oppose the UNRWA’s service reductions, told Anadolu Agency that protest activity would be gradually stepped up in coming days.

“Protests will be organized outside the UNRWA’s offices in both the West Bank and Gaza,” he said.

“Today we shut the agency’s Nablus office,” he added. “Tomorrow we’ll hold a mass rally elsewhere in West Bank to demand that UNRWA reverse its decision to reduce services.”

Last month, the U.S. announced plans to withhold $65 million of aid to UNRWA “until further consideration”.

Founded in 1949 (the year after Israel’s establishment), UNRWA provides services to millions of Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

By the end of 2014, the number of Palestinian refugees worldwide hit some 5.9 million, of which roughly 5.3 million are registered with UNRWA, according to Palestine’s official statistical agency.

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