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Rights group calls for necessary attention to be paid to Palestinian refugees

A Palestinian man stands in front of the emblem of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza City on 31 July 2018. (By AFP)

A Palestinian rights group has urged the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to pay necessary attention to Palestinian refugees similar to that given to Ukrainians who have fled the conflict in their country, and to deal with their problems fairly, responsibly and seriously.

“Amid the global deteriorating reality and the aggravation of crises... We find that there are double standards in dealing with the refugee crises,” Shahed said in a statement carried by the Palestinian Information Center on Wednesday.

“While the international community has mobilized all its capabilities to support the emergency Ukrainian refugee issue, which is undoubtedly a humanitarian issue, we find that there is unjustified absence of support for the chronic Palestinian refugee issue,” the group explained.

Shahed also urged launch of an emergency appeal to ensure aid for all refugees.

It also urged the UNRWA to expand the Social Safety Net Program (SSNP) to include the largest possible number of refugees, and to increase cash transfers and set gradual emergency plans to be implemented quickly when necessary in order to relieve the impacts of the humanitarian and economic crises the refugees face.

According to Shahed, the global circumstances worsened the situation of the Palestinian refugees, noting that they have already been suffering from miserable living conditions.

UNRWA is responsible for helping nearly 5.7 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, by running schools, food distribution programs, and health clinics.

It went through a management crisis in 2019, when its previous head resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct, nepotism and other abuses of authority at the agency.

UNRWA was hit hard in 2018, when former president Donald Trump halted US funding. However, the re-engagement of the US under President Joe Biden has been offset by the lack of commitments from the Persian Gulf Arab states, and by decreases in grants from other countries such as the UK.

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