SFP activists joined UNWRA workers on hunger strike on Thursday evening at their solidarity tent, in the centre of Nablus, to show their continued support. The workers have now been on hunger strike for 16 days, with one of the workers recently hospitalized. 55 workers in Nablus have lost their jobs, some having worked for UNWRA for over 13 years. Many of the Palestinian workers were employed on a contractual basis by the UN to bypass employment rights. This is in stark contrast to their international colleagues, many of whom are paid vastly higher salaries and are permanently employed. One of the workers described how the combined salary of the 55 sacked workers would not amount to one of the international directors wages.
To date the workers have had no dialogue with the UN, which still refuses to engage with them and respect their human rights. The workers are demanding: pay equality; pay progression;restoration of vital UN projects; and reinstatement of sacked workers are the illegal detention by the Israeli Army.
As well as refusing to engage with the workers, citing a lack of funding as rationale, the UN has largely turned a blind eye to the suffering of the Palestinian refugees in Syria, some of who, have already starved to death. This is despite the fact that UNWRA was established to support the refugees while they await their rightful return to their homes in historical Palestine.
Israel is pressuring the UN to cease its activities in Palestine. UNWRA workers and the refugees are untied in demanding action for their people. Palestinian refugees now starving to death in Syria have the right under international law to return to their homes in Palestine. Activists were clear, if the UN, by succumbing to Apartheid Israeli pressure to cease working for the refugees, the international community must create a safe passage for the refugees to return home. Only then will UNWRA’s role in Palestine no longer be necessary.
On Sunday 12 January SFP activists and other Palestinian groups, held a candlelight vigil for workers and refugees. SFP will continue to support the workers and refugees and kindly asks our international friends, particularly international Trade Unions, to pressure their respective representatives to act to secure the UNWRA workers rights. Please also show your solidarity by leaving supportive messages on the workers Facebook page and share it with your friends.