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Pay raise deal ends UNRWA employees' strike

By JT - Nov 04,2019 - Last updated at Nov 04,2019

UNRWA workers agreed to end a strike they staged on Sunday following a pay raise agreement reached with their management (JT photo)

AMMAN — UNRWA employees ended a strike they started on Sunday following an agreement reached with the UN agency's management, mediated by the Foreign Ministry. 

Thousands of employees of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees went on strike on Sunday, shutting down schools and health centres.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and UNRWA Jordan Staff Union Chairman Riyad Zieghan announced the deal in a joint press conference, during which employees agreed to resume work on Monday.

Zieghan was quoted in a Foreign Ministry statement as saying that UNRWA employees will be granted pay raise under the deal ranging between JD70 to JD100 depending on rank, beginning in January.

Safadi said that the agreement took into consideration UNRWA's difficult economic conditions, stressing that the UN relief agency is a top priority for Jordan.

He also said that Jordan will continue working on securing the necessary financial support to UNRWA to bridge its budget deficit. 

Safadi highlighted that UNRWA is tied to the refugee cause, which is one of the most significant final-status issues and must be resolved in accordance with international legislative decisions, most notably UNGA Resolution 194 and the Arab Peace initiative, to guarantee the refugees’ rights of return and compensation.

“UNRWA’s humanitarian role is necessary and will be neither compromised nor negotiated,” Safadi said.

UNRWA Spokesperson Sami Mshasha told The Jordan Times earlier on Sunday that the strike was observed by around 7000 workers, warning of “serious consequences on UNRWA’s core services to 2.1 million Palestine refugees”.

The agency runs 169 schools in the Kingdom — where some 120,000 students are enrolled — as well as a faculty of science and educational arts, 25 primary healthcare centres and other services, according to AFP.

The agency provides vital schooling and medical services to some five million Palestinians in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

In 2018, the United States suspended and later cut all funding for UNRWA, causing a financial crisis that threatened to see its schools and hospitals closed.

In June, UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl told a news conference in Amman that the agency faced an expected $211 million shortfall in funding for 2019, calling on donors to fill the gap.

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