Statement by the Global Palestinian Refugee Network
Palestinian civil society organizations from Al Dheisheh Refugee Camp, Aida Refugee Camp and Beit Jibreen (Al Azzeh) Refugee Camp, representatives of popular committees, political coordination committee, community figures and the UNRWA Arab Staff Union – West Bank (ASU) gathered on February 6, 2023, at Ibdaa’ Center in Al Dheisheh Refugee Camp. The meeting was convened by the Global Palestinian Refugee Network (GPRN). Attendees at the meeting discussed updates regarding the ASU strike in the West Bank and planned a number of activities which will be immediately implemented in support of UNRWA employees on strike and their legitimate demands.
During the meeting, the GPRN summarized policies aimed at dismantling UNRWA and transforming it into a security body. These include the reduction of services, imposition of conditional funding, and attempts to transfer the agency’s responsibilities to other bodies such as local organizations and committees in host countries or host country governments. The GPRN also mentioned that derogating from employees’ rights represents a step towards dismantling UNRWA. Moreover, the GPRN stressed the necessity and importance of confronting and exposing attempts to demonize the ASU and hold them responsible for the failure of the agency and the international community to fulfill their commitments and responsibilities.
The ASU presented an update on the strike, including their meetings with a number of official agencies and bodies in the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. They also discussed the PA’s initiative, which was approved by the ASU and presented to UNRWA. UNRWA has yet to issue a response to this initiative.
Throughout the meeting, attendees affirmed the legitimacy of the strike and their rejection of the attempts to disconnect them from the ASU. Moreover, they stressed the necessity of supporting the strike and the employees’ legitimate demands, along with the need to confront the policies aimed at dismantling UNRWA.
Attendees at the meeting agreed to organize a number of supporting events and activities that will be implemented within the coming week, most notably:
- Organizing central supportive event in Ramallah and other activities in Bethlehem.
- Setting up a permanent support tent at UNRWA’s sites in a central point in main cities to host popular activities.
- Issuing an open letter in various languages to international bodies to expose the injustice inflicted on employees and refugees as a result of UNRWA’s policies of reduction, neglect and violations of rights.
- Launching a local and international media campaign that exposes the policies aimed at dismantling UNRWA, in order to build public support ASU in the event that the strike continues for a long period of time.
- Enhancing the internal coordination between all bodies involved in the media campaign and ensuring the inclusion of other issues of refugees’ concern and extending the activities to other areas of UNRWA operational areas in the region.
Return is Our Right and Our Will