The United Nations has halted food distribution among tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees in the besieged Gaza Strip after demonstrators protesting aid cuts stormed a UN compound.
On Thursday, dozens of people in Gaza forcefully entered the office of the UN Relief and Works Agency(UNRWA) in the blockaded Palestinian territory, calling for the reinstatement of a monthly allowance to poor Palestinian families. The cash allowance has been cut since April 1 due to UNRWA budget cuts. “We fully understand the impact the decision to suspend cash assistance had on some of our beneficiaries, ” the UN agency said in a statement. It added that the recent wave of protests had forced UNRWA to close many of its depots in the Gaza Strip.
“With the situation further compounded by today’s actions, all relief and distribution centers will consequently remain closed until guarantees are given by all relevant groups that UNRWA operations can continue unhindered, ” the UN agency statement said.
However, Palestinian demonstrators said they would continue their protest against the aid cuts. The Israeli siege on Gaza has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the impoverished Palestinian enclave, having turned the territory into the world’s largest open-air prison.