A Palestinian man began an open hunger strike Monday in south Lebanon in protest over recent aid cuts made by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the state-run National News Agency reported.

The NNA said that Palestinian national Haitham al-Ghazi went on hunger strike in the Mieh Mieh refugee camp near Sidon as he sat on the ground in front of a UNRWA office inside the premises, chanting “death and not humiliation.”

Palestinian popular committees also blocked the entrance to an UNRWA office Monday in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in the southern city of Sidon.

In Beirut, some Palestinian children held a protest near the UNRWA’s main headquarters.

For months, Palestinians in many of the 12 refugee camps across Lebanon have been protesting the cuts that UNRWA said it was forced to make due to dwindling budget.

Last month, a 23-year-old Palestinian set himself on fire outside a clinic managed by the UNRWA in the Burj al-Shemali camp in the southern district of Tyre over aid cuts.

Refugees since Jan. 1 have been required to pay 5 percent of referral care costs if they receive treatment from a Palestinian Red Crescent hospital; 15 percent if from a government hospital; and 20 percent if from a private hospital. They used to be able to receive free care from any of the three.

But the refugees are receiving in exchange expanded coverage for complex surgery and long-term care, with the relief agency now covering 60 percent of “tertiary care” expenses, up from 50 percent, to a ceiling of $5,000, from $4,200.

Source & Link: The Daily Star