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UN suspends food distribution to 25,000 Palestinian refugees

The decision was made after demonstrators angry at aid cuts stormed a UN depot.

A Palestinian worker sits next to food aid at a United Nations distribution centre in Gaza City (file photo).
A Palestinian worker sits next to food aid at a United Nations distribution centre in Gaza City (file photo).
Image: HATEM MOUSSA/AP/Press Association Images

THE UNITED NATIONS said it has suspended food distribution to about 25,000 Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, after demonstrators angry at aid cuts stormed a UN depot.

Dozens of Gazans forced their way into the field office of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) yesterday, demanding reinstatement of a monthly cash allowance to poor families which was halted from April 1 due to UNRWA budget cuts.

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

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

“Demonstrations during the past week had already forced UNRWA to close many of its facilities,” it added.

UNRWA subsequently took the decision to close all relief and distribution centres until guarantees could be given by all the relevant groups that operations could continue unhindered.

“This is a very regrettable situation for us to be in, as food distributions right now are taking place for some 25,000 refugees every day. But we cannot tolerate these ongoing threats to our staff,” UNRWA said.

Abu Hussam, a 50-year-old jobless man at yesterday’s demonstration, was unrepentant.

“We shall continue our protests,” he told AFP.

- © AFP, 2013

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