Hundreds demonstrate in Gaza in support of UN agency for Palestinian refugees

Source: Xinhua| 2018-03-15 20:34:54|Editor: Chengcheng
Video PlayerClose

GAZA, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in Gaza City on Thursday, calling on the international community to continue supporting the United Nations agency aiding Palestinian refugees.

Demonstrators raised banners condemning the U.S. aid cuts to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), warning against halting UNRWA's services to Palestinian refugees.

The protest coincided with a conference of donor countries held in the Italian capital Rome to discuss the worsening financial deficit in the UNRWA budget.

The Rome Donor Conference is attended by 90 countries under the patronage and invitation of Sweden, Jordan and Egypt.

A Palestinian government delegation headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will participate in the conference to call for the need to mobilize the largest international support for the UNRWA.

The United States decided in January to decrease its contribution to the UNRWA in 2018 from 125 million U.S. dollars to 65 million dollars.

The U.S. has also announced it will not provide the agency with 45 million dollars that it pledged in last December.

Fathi Sabah, head of the Palestinian National Committee to Support the UNRWA, said the protest was aimed at condemning the U.S. and Israeli attempts to eliminate the issue of the Palestinian refugees.

"Attempts to undermine the refugees issue are being done by trying to end the work of the UNRWA through reducing financial support," he told Xinhua at the demonstration.

The UNRWA, which provides education, health and food aid to some 5 million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, said it is already suffering from a deficit of 150 million dollars and any funding suspension would have a negative impact on its work.

More than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip will suffer if the agency is shut down or financial aid is suspended.

In Gaza, which has been placed under a tight Israeli blockade since 2007, the UNRWA takes care of some 1.2 million refugees living in eight refugee camps.