GAZA, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- The UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) said Thursday it has stopped paying housing rents for 1,612 Palestinian families in Gaza Strip in "painful" measures to deal with its financial crisis.
Matthias Schmale, director of UNRWA operations, told reporters in Gaza that his agency also has fired 116 employees, adding that "this measure had created escalation between the agency and its employees."
He said the UNRWA still has 64 million U.S. dollars in deficit in its budget, which is the main reason for it to take these "painful and difficult measures."
"One of these measures is that UNRWA stopped paying the housing rents for 1,612 families in the Gaza Strip that their homes were destroyed during the 2014 large-scale Israeli offensive waged on the Gaza Strip," he said.
The UNRWA has been paying the housing rents for around 5,000 Palestinian families until their homes were rebuilt.
It needs 300 to 400 million dollars to keep providing services to the refugees in 2019, Schmale said.
He said that this year was a hard year for UNRWA on both the financing and the humanitarian levels after the United States decided to cut all its funding.
"In spite of the severe financial crisis UNRWA is passing through, the agency has kept providing its services to the Palestinian refugees, mainly 300,000 refugees in the Gaza Strip," he said.
Schmale also said that 75 schools funded by the agency are still open for students, while it continues to provide food and health aid to poor refugee families in Gaza.