Cash-strapped UNRWA advertises cushy PR position

UNRWA has been in financial trouble and laid off hundreds of Palestinians this year; the position that UNRWA is advertising pays over 14 times average income for a Palestinian.

October 14, 2018 11:22
1 minute read.
Cash-strapped UNRWA advertises cushy PR position

A Palestinian woman takes part in a protest against possible reductions of the services and aid offered by United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in front of UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City August 16, 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)


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A United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) job posting published last month offered a starting salary of over $100,000 for the position of director of external relations. The well-paid post comes despite the fact that the organization finds itself in serious financial trouble.

In the posting, UNWRA offered an attractive compensation package, including an annual salary starting at $108,189 tax free. The benefits also included dependency allowances, subsidized living, education grants for children, travel expenses, 6 full weeks of annual vacation and extensive insurance package.

The position that UNRWA is advertising pays over 14 times average annual income for a Palestinian in 2017, $6960.

UNRWA has been in financial trouble since the Trump administration announced that it would cut all funding to the organization, questioning its "fundamental business model" of servicing an "endlessly and exponentially expanding community" of declared Palestinian refugees.

In July, the organization decided to lay off hundreds of its employees, causing outrage among Palestinians.

Sources in the Gaza Strip said that some 1,000 employees were affected by UNRWA’s measures, which included the immediate dismissal of 125 workers from the agency’s emergency program. UNRWA employees in the West Bank were also affected.

Another 570 UNRWA employees were notified that they would be hired only on a part-time basis, while an additional 270 were told that their contracts would be terminated at the end of the year if the financial crisis is not resolved.

In late September, UNRWA announced that Palestinian schools and health centers might soon have to shut down due to a gap in funding of $185 million.

UNRWA schools had opened in mid-August despite a deficit cause by US funding cuts with half a million students returning to the 711 establishments.

Shortly after UNRWA's September announcement, UNRWA raised $122 million in donor funds for Palestinians, thereby reducing its budgetary shortfall to only $64m. for this year.

The pledges, which included $40 million from the European Union, were made at a meeting in New York on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Tovah Lazaroff and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.

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