HAMAS yesterday urged the United Nations to reconsider its suspension of food aid for Palestinian refugees, imposed after protesters stormed a UN depot in Gaza demonstrating against aid cuts.
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) stopped food deliveries after dozens of Gazans forced their way into the field office on Thursday, demanding reinstatement of a monthly cash allowance to poor families which was halted from April 1st due to UN budget cuts.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: ‘This is an unjustified step from UNRWA. There is a right of peaceful protest for Palestinian refugees.’
Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Robert Turner, said on Thursday: ‘We fully understand the impact the decision to suspend cash assistance had on some of our beneficiaries.’
He added: ‘We respect people’s right to peaceful demonstration but what happened today was completely unacceptable: the situation could very easily have resulted in serious injuries to UNRWA staff and to the demonstrators.’
He continued: ‘These demonstrations affect our ability to provide much needed service to the Palestine refugees in Gaza and, because they also targeted the Gaza headquarters building, our operations in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.’
UNRWA stated: ‘With the situation further compounded by today’s actions, all relief and distribution centres will consequently remain closed until guarantees are given by all relevant groups that UNRWA operations can continue unhindered.’
Turner added: ‘Any other affected installations will also remain closed.’
Abu Zuhri said that UNRWA staff were in no danger, as Hamas security forces had been posted to ensure their safety and the smooth running of their operations.
He said: ‘We in Hamas and the government are preventing entry (of protesters) to UNRWA headquarters in Gaza. We are providing appropriate conditions for UNRWA’s work.’
The agency said donor support had not kept pace with growing demand from the five million registered refugees it is tasked with helping in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, forcing it to cut services to all Palestinain refugees.
‘The agency’s General Fund, supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97% reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at $67.2 million,’ UNRWA added.
The same states that are refusing to provide the required aid for Palestinian refugees are pouring hundreds of millions into the coffers of the gangs that are currently seeking to overthrow the Syrian government.