UNRWA has over 30,000 employees, most of them Palestine refugees and a small number of international staff.
Thabet Organization for the Right of Return, headquartered in Lebanon, has condemned a decision by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to suspend the wages of day laborers, dubbing it “unfair and immoral”.
“Thabet” said the measure will badly affect the situation of thousands of Palestine refugee works, particularly in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The organization said in a press statement that the decision stands in sharp contrast with humanitarian standards at a time when the socio-economic condition of vulnerable refugee communities has taken a turn for the worse due to coronavirus propagation.
“Day laborers have been home quarantined as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, following instructions given by UNRWA to keep indoors and work from home. The decision is a necessity rather than an option”, read the statement.
“Thabet” has called on UNRWA in Lebanon to revoke the measure which comes at a time when Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and in UNRWA’s other fields of operations continue to grapple with high vulnerability and marginalization.
A few days earlier, UNRWA said it has decided to lay off day laborers after its operations have been partly halted in its five fields of operations in line with precautionary measures taken by host countries to prevent further COVID-19 contaminations.
In a statement issued in response to the decision, PRC said that responses to coronavirus outbreaks should not be made at the expense of workers’ sole livelihoods and to the detriment of their humanitarian needs.
“Palestinian refugees and their families should not be turned into ‘scapegoats’ for the anti-coronavirus battle”, stated PRC in a statement issued earlier this week.
The Centre warned that if serious measures are not taken to protect Palestinian refugee workers and their families who continue to struggle for a living, the consequences will not be very much less tragic than those wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.