Gaza staff at UN agency for Palestinians strike over job cuts

A Palestinian man walks past a closed health centre that run by United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) during a strike of all UNRWA institutions in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on September 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Gaza staff at UN agency for Palestinians strike over job cuts

  • The one-day strike closed more than 250 UNRWA schools in Gaza, as well as medical centers and food aid distribution points
  • The United States has traditionally been UNRWA’s largest funder, providing around $350 million a year

GAZA CITY: Staff at the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees went on strike in the Gaza Strip on Monday to protest against job losses and US funding cuts.
The one-day strike closed more than 250 UNRWA schools in Gaza, as well as medical centers and food aid distribution points.
The United States has traditionally been UNRWA’s largest funder, providing around $350 million (300 million euros) a year.
But President Donald Trump has cut all support, sparking a funding crisis.
More than 250 jobs have been cut in Gaza and the West Bank so far, while hundreds of full-time roles have become part-time.
The refugee agency’s labor union is demanding the job cuts be reversed and its leaders say the strike could be the first of a number of measures.
A small protest took place outside the agency’s Gaza headquarters.
“The strike comes in light of the (UNRWA) administration’s lack of responsiveness to the demands of the employees’ union and their insistence on not solving their problems,” Amal Al-Batsh, deputy head of the union, said in a statement.
UNRWA says the funding deficit caused by the Trump administration’s withdrawal of support is so severe cuts are unavoidable.
Around 13,000 people work for the agency in Gaza, where more than two-thirds of the roughly two million residents are eligible for aid.
UNRWA says more than 200,000 Palestinians attend its schools in the strip.


Iran starts Gulf war games, to test submarine-launched missiles

Updated 22 February 2019
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Iran starts Gulf war games, to test submarine-launched missiles

  • More than 100 vessels taking part in the three-day war games in an area stretching from the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean
  • Iran has expanded its missile program, particularly its ballistic missiles

DUBAI: Iran on Friday began large-scale naval drills at the mouth of the Gulf, which will feature its first submarine cruise missile launches, state media reported, at a time of rising tensions with the United States.
More than 100 vessels were taking part in the three-day war games in a vast area stretching from the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean, the state news agency IRNA reported.
“The exercise will cover confronting a range of threats, testing weapons, and evaluating the readiness of equipment and personnel,” navy commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, said in remarks carried by state television.
“Submarine missile launches will be carried out ... in addition to helicopter and drone launches from the deck of the Sahand destroyer,” Khanzadi said.
State media said Iran would be testing its new domestically built Fateh (Conqueror) submarine which is armed with cruise missiles and was launched last week.
Iranian officials in the past have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile US action, including attempts to halt Iranian oil exports through sanctions.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program last May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
Iran has expanded its missile program, particularly its ballistic missiles.
Iran launched its domestically made destroyer Sahand in December, which official say has radar-evading stealth properties.
The USS John C. Stennis entered the Gulf in December, ending a long absence of US aircraft carriers in the strategic waterway.
Iran displayed a new cruise surface-to-surface missile with a range of 1,300 kilometers earlier this month during celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Western experts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons capabilities, although there are concerns about its long-range ballistic missiles.