Friday, 5 April 2013

Hamas urges UN to resume Gaza food aid

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Hamas on Friday urged the United Nations to reconsider its suspension of food aid for Palestinian refugees, imposed after protesters stormed a UN depot.

The UN Relief and Works Agency, or 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 1 due to budget cuts.

"This is an unjustified step from UNRWA," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

"There is a right of peaceful protest for Palestinian refugees," he said, adding: "We call on UNRWA to reevaluate its position and not to overreact to residents' protest."

The protesters were removed by UN security when they tried to break into a building, staff said.

"We fully understand the impact of the decision to suspend cash assistance had on some of our beneficiaries," UNRWA said in a statement.

"Demonstrations during the past week had already forced UNRWA to close many of its facilities," said the UN Palestinian refugee agency.

"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. more

UNRWA shuts down Gaza offices over protests

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The UN agency for Palestine refugees said Thursday it was closing offices in the Gaza Strip in response to a "dramatic and disturbing" escalation in demonstrations over the week.

Protesters have been demonstrating outside UNRWA's offices to protest a reduction in financial assistance to vulnerable Palestinian refugees, but on Thursday they managed to enter a central compound.

In response, the agency said, all relief and distribution centers will remain closed "until guarantees are given by all relevant groups that UNRWA operations can continue unhindered."

The agency's large-scale food distribution program will continue operating, it said. more