By Nour Abu Aisha
GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) - Employees of UN refugee agency UNRWA staged a demonstration in the Gaza Strip on Monday to protest recent U.S. funding cuts.
UNRWA Operations Director Matthias Schmale, along with the leaders of several Palestinian political factions took part in the rally, which was held outside UNESCO’s Gaza City office.
“We are here to voice our anger over the injustices suffered by Palestinian refugees,” Amir al-Mishal, UNRWA head of services, told demonstrators.
Recent U.S. funding cuts, he said, would serve to deprive the region’s roughly six million Palestinian refugees of badly needed public services.
Al-Mishal went on to urge the UN refugee agency to resist what he described as “political blackmail”.
“Funding the UNRWA is a moral obligation that should be maintained until the issue of issue of Palestine is resolved,” he said.
Two weeks ago, Washington announced plans to withhold $65 million of aid to the UNRWA “until further consideration”.
The UNRWA provides services to some 5.9 million Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
The total U.S. contribution to UNRWA in 2017 was more than $350 million.
The U.S. funding cuts came one month after U.S. President Donald Trump sparked a world outcry by officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- might eventually serve as the capital of an independent state of Palestine.