The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees has
officially changed its logo and name, omitting the words “relief” and
Palestinians fear the decision is an indication the UN agency is
planning to stop providing refugees with many services.
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A spokesman for
the agency denied the change had any significance, and it was just updating its
website on the occasion of its 60th anniversary.
Changing the agency’s
mandate can be done only through a UN resolution, the spokesman
Although the agency’s new website does carry the word UNRWA,
the sentence accompanying it now reads: “The UN agency for Palestinian
The absence of the two words has sparked a wave of protests in
the Gaza Strip.
Over the past few days, Palestinians staged a number of
demonstrations outside the headquarters of the agency in Gaza City.
Popular Committee for Refugees in the Gaza Strip said the name change is part of
an attempt by the agency to avoid fulfilling its duties toward Palestinian
The committee expressed fear the decision was part of a
conspiracy designed to resettle refugees and deny them the right to return to
their homes inside Israel.
“Changing the name means that UNRWA is trying
to evade some of its responsibilities,” said Mueen Okal, chairman of the
The Hamas government has also voiced concern over UNRWA’s
decision, accusing the agency of conspiring against the rights of Palestinian
A statement by Hamas claimed the change indicates the agency is
planning radical changes in its mission. The statement said UNRWA does not have
the right to change its mandate or dissolve itself.
Hamas Prime Minister
Ismail Haniyeh said his government was following the case with UNRWA and others
to clarify the picture.
Haniyeh told supporters in a mosque on Friday
that the apparent name change had “political implications that would affect
UNRWA’s commitments towards the Palestinian refugees.”