The United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) closed Friday all its schools and health centers in Lebanon's southern Sidon region because of "unacceptable interferences."
"We've stopped today and until further notice all kinds of services in the region of Sidon because of unacceptable interferences in our operations as a UN agency," Daniel Deasy, UNRWA deputy director, told AFP.
Deasy said the popular committees at the camp of Ain al-Helweh, at the outskirts of the port city of Sidon, "today forced the closure of UNRWA schools, clinics and other health and social centers."
"They wanted to protest our decision to ban nine students, who are over 18 years of age, from attending our secondary school," he said.
"But our decision is according to the rules and we cannot have 20-year-old students sitting with 16-year-olds. It is too disruptive," he said.
Deasy said UNRWA "decided to respond by ending all our services in the Sidon region until further notice, because we cannot accept that the committee takes such unilateral actions every time they do not like what we are doing."
"But our decision has nothing to do with any flag burning. We have absolutely no report about any flag burning and anyway, such a thing would never make us take any decision like that," he said.
Adnan Rifai, a member of the Ain al-Helweh popular committee told AFP that the UNRWA decision came "in response to the burning of the United Nations flag by some Palestinians."
Rifai accused the United Nations of siding with Israel in "plotting against the Palestinians in the occupied territories and abroad while threatening that camps will "adopt necessary measures, possibly civil disobedience."
Earlier Friday, Palestinian demonstrators torched UN, US and Israeli flags and lashed out at the United Nations, accusing it of pro-Israeli bias.
Around 367,000 Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon – BEIRUT (AFP)
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