USAID sack half Palestinian staff, to end Gaza and West Bank operations by 2019

USAID sack half Palestinian staff, to end Gaza and West Bank operations by 2019
2 min read
25 November, 2018
USAID have laid off half it staff in the Palestinian territories as it prepares to end operations in the West Bank and Gaza by 2019.
USAID provides vital support in the Palestinian territories [AFP]

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced it will end its operations in the West Bank and Gaza by 2019, as President Donald Trump attempts to pile the pressure on the Ramallah government.

USAID have told more than half their staff in the Palestinian territories that they are being laid off, as the aid agency aims at ending operations by next year, Haaretz reported on Sunday.

The State Department presented USAID with a list of 60 percent of the agency's staff who will be laid off, the Israeli newspaper added.

USAID operations in the Palestinian territories will close by 2019, which will pile further misery on the residents of the besieged Gaza enclave and the occupied West Bank.

USAID is a vital humanitarian agency for Palestinians in the occupied territories, providing health, education and infrastructure services to the West Bank and Gaza since 1994.

The agency has provided $5.5 billion to the Palestinian territories, helping build and run schools, hospitals and roads, as well as critical training to teachers, doctors and community workers.

It is also helping build a desalination plant for Gaza, where water shortages are a key concern for humanitarian and government workers in the besieged territory.

Trump has attempted to strangle the Palestinian Authority into accepting his peace plan for the Middle East, which has been treated with huge caution in Ramallah.

He has ordered funding to be cut to a huge number of humanitarian organisations working in the Palestinian territories, including UNHCR and PA security groups, with hundreds of millions of dollars diverted to other relief efforts in other parts of the world.

Israel's military has voiced concerns about the cuts, fearing it could spark civil unrest in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Meanwhile, aid agencies fear the cuts will lead to even worsening conditions for Palestinians living under occupation or siege.