UN Ramallah employees barred from holding hunger-strike solidarity protests

UN Ramallah employees barred from holding hunger-strike solidarity protests
Young Palestinian crowd of protesters have campaigned outside the UN headquarters in Ramallah, about a perceived lack of interest by the international organisation over a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners.
2 min read
18 May, 2017
Over 1,600 prisoners took part in the hunger strike ingesting only water and salt [Getty]

Protestors shut down the UN headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday to condemn the UN's "silence" about a mass hunger strike being carried out by Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails.

Several, mostly young, demonstrators stood outside the local UN headquarters in Ramallah, carrying Palestinian flags and signs denouncing the UN, and preventing staff from entering the building.

"I hope that a resolution is found as quickly as possible and there are efforts to address the situation," UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov told Maan News Agency.

"The hunger strike is in its 31st day and the risk to the health of the prisoners increases by the day. International humanitarian law and human rights obligations towards all prisoners must be fully respected," he added.

Days after the hunger strikes began in April, the UN had announced that it is "closely observing" the "developments" of the hunger strikes.

Health deteriorating

The protests happened while the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs (CDA) announced on Wednesday that scores of hunger strikers have been transferred to hospital after a deterioration of his health.

Earlier this week, the leader of the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike Marwan Barghouti announced that he will no longer drink water in response to Israel's continued refusal to respond to the demands of the detainees.

His health has seen a rapid decline during his protest, which began a month ago.

A human rights lawyer who visited Barghouti said that had lost 12kg in the space of a month and has not been allowed to change his clothes since the start of the hunger strike.

More than 1,600 prisoners took part in the hunger strike that began on 17 April, ingesting only water and salt. By the beginning of May, the number of strikers has now decreased to just below 1,000 people.

However, some Palestinian sources claim the number of people joining the hunger strikes have risen by at least 300 since the drop in strikers.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently being detained by Israel for a range of offences and alleged crimes. Around 500 are held under administrative detention, which allows imprisonment without charge. 

Palestinian prisoners have mounted repeated hunger strikes, however this protest is reportedly the largest protest in recent times.