Palestinian Students in Lebanon Strike to Demand Secondary Schools from UN
Thousands of Palestinian refugee students observed Wednesday a general strike to support demands for the United Nations to build them secondary schools in camps in northern and eastern Lebanon.
All schools in the 12 Palestinian camps, spread across Lebanon, remained closed for the strike, which came after several days of student sit-ins at the headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Beirut.
A number of students have also been observing hunger strikes for the past few days in front of the UNRWA headquarters in the capital and in a refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
The students are demanding that UNRWA construct secondary schools for Palestinian refugees in camps in northern and eastern Lebanon.
Since 1994, the UNRWA built three secondary schools in camps in Beirut and the southern cities of Sidon and Tyre that offer education for free to the Palestinian refugees.
Students from camps in the north and the eastern Bekaa valley only had the option of travelling daily to attend night classes at those three schools.
"The UNRWA established a system of shifts - morning classes and afternoon classes - but this is not an option nor a solution to the problem," said an official of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).
"The students have to travel for hours. They have to be either driven by their parents who are forced to leave work or pay a lot of money for transportation. This is not human," he told AFP.
He said "the UNRWA is ignoring such urging humanitarian needs and claims that it has no budget for new schools, putting the blame on lack of funds from donor countries."
There are some 350,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and the vast majority of them were originally from the Palestinian territories on which the state of Israel was set up in 1948.
About half of them live in miserable conditions in the dozen camps spread around the different regions of the country.
UNRWA refused to comment on the strike Wednesday - BEIRUT (AFP)
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