U.N. aid agency suspends Gaza distribution over riot at HQ
Friday, April 05, 2013 - 01:31
April 5 - The main U.N. humanitarian agency for Palestinians said it was suspending operations in the Gaza Strip after demonstrators angered by aid cutbacks stormed its headquarters. Mana Rabiee reports.
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A key life-line in Gaza - shut down.
The main UN humanitarian agency for Palestinians suspended operations in Gaza Thursday.
The move came after demonstrators stormed its headquarters, angry over news it was scaling back aid to Gaza's neediest residents because of budget cuts.
The UN agency's chief, Filippo Grandi, said they won't re-open their doors until local authorities give security guarantees.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY (UNRWA) COMMISSIONER-GENERAL, FILIPPO GRANDI, SAYING:
"We can have no tolerance whatsoever for aggressive behavior towards our installations and our staff in particular, and this is what happened yesterday. There was a pre-organized demonstration, and demonstrations are fine, but not when they turn violent and very risky."
But on Friday, the Hamas government in Gaza said the UN agency was over-reacting and urged it to resume work there.
Two-thirds of Gaza's population depends on the agency for food and cash assistance.
Residents here say they can't survive without that help.
(SOUNDBITE)(Arabic) FATHI SAID, GAZA REFUGEE, SAYING:
"How can they say there is no money? There is money. The Palestinian nations depend on two sources (for money); the salary from the (Palestinian) authority and the (UN). This is how the Palestinian nation lives. If the (UN) makes the cuts, the Palestinian nation will be zero."
The UN agency plans to start a cash-for-work program to help the poorest families affected by the cutbacks.
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