UNRWA – the worst thing that happened to the Palestinians – opinion

Donor countries will meet in Brussels on Tuesday in hopes of raising $ 800 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) to manage Palestinian refugee camps. But is UNRWA funding a smart investment for donor countries? More importantly, is it good for the Palestinians to fund UNRWA?

There has been a lot of negative news about UNRWA. The United States and others are demanding that UNRWA fix its textbooks and ensure that UNRWA schools no longer hide terror tunnels. Certainly these demands are valid.

What is not being addressed, however, is that even if UNRWA solved all of these problems, UNRWA remains arguably the most widely funded institution of human rights abuses by the international community.

This year, the US has already given UNRWA $ 318 million, and before the Trump administration, the US was the largest donor to UNRWA. During the eight years of the Obama administration, for example, the United States gave UNRWA more than $ 2 billion. What did the United States get in return for this investment?

According to UNRWA, the number of refugees increased during the Obama years from 4.6 million to 5.3 million, an increase of 700,000 refugees. The $ 2b. The US investment did not rehabilitate even one refugee. Instead, each $ 2,857 corresponded to a new refugee. Adding in the many billions contributed by other countries, the total waste is huge. Additionally, UNRWA’s core budget since Obama’s first year has increased by $ 545 million. to $ 806 million. today. UNRWA is a hotbed for growing refugees and a bottomless pit for international money. The fundamental problem with UNRWA is not its ties to terrorism; the fundamental problem with UNRWA – it is UNRWA itself.

PALESTINIAN STUDENTS attend classes at a UNRWA-run school in the West Bank’s al-Fari’ah refugee camp in April. (credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA / REUTERS)

Looking at UNRWA’s history shows this even more clearly. UNRWA was established in 1949 when approximately 726,000 Arabs (according to UN figures) who had been displaced during Israel’s War of Independence were placed under the care of UNRWA. Incredibly, the number has grown today to 5,700,000 in 58 camps. By refusing to resettle the original refugees, UNRWA intentionally turned a limited problem into permanent misery, both for those actual refugees and for the 5.5 million people who were born refugees. Possibly the worst thing that happened to the Palestinians was the creation of UNRWA. UNRWA is the real Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe).

It didn’t have to be this way. A few months after the creation of UNRWA, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was opened to help all other refugees. UNHCR describes its success: “During our lifetime (since 1950) we have helped more than 50 million refugees.” The contrast is extraordinary. UNHCR has resettled millions of refugees in the same period that UNRWA did not resettle one, but imposed refugee status on millions of children, some born 72 years ago. Every child has the right to be born in freedom, but UNRWA has trampled on those human rights more than five million times. Funding UNRWA is not only a waste of limited international resources, it also funds an organization that is fundamentally a human rights violator.

In a surprising admission to the political agenda behind UNRWA, the Palestinian Authority Minister of Social Development Ahmed Majdalani recently told UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini how the Palestinian Authority views UNRWA in an article in Al-Quds line on October 27. “Majdalani emphasized the need to protect UNRWA not as an institution that provides services to refugees, but rather because it is a political symbol of the refugees’ right of return,” the article says.

UNRWA is not intended to help refugees, but to preserve them as refugees serving the objectives of the Palestinian Authority. The world saw a tragic example of the ideology of the Palestinian Authority during the Syrian civil war. Palestinians in the refugee camps were being killed and Israel offered to allow them into the Palestinian Authority areas on the condition that they be removed from the UN refugee lists. Surprisingly, Mahmoud Abbas refused. The Palestinian Authority preferred to be killed as refugees than to live as free people in the Palestinian Authority areas. Up to 4,000 residents of the camp are estimated to have died during the fighting.

As a top international priority, something must be done to save the 5.7 million victims of UNRWA, and there is a solution. UNRWA’s infrastructure must be closed and the administration of all its camps must be transferred to UNHCR, free from the dictates of the Palestinian Authority. UNHCR will be tasked with solving the problem as opposed to UNRWA, whose task has been to perpetuate the problem. UNHCR will go to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority areas with a mandate to remove the chains from the refugees and set them free.

UNHCR will use their billions of dollars to train them, create jobs and give them homes in the countries where they were born and lived all their lives, where they must be granted full citizenship. Countries that refuse to resettle their fellow Arabs must be excluded from the international community and denied international aid until they agree. Rather than chain 100,000 new refugees each year, hundreds of thousands and eventually millions can be resettled each year until all political refugees are released.

UNRWA as the “political symbol” of the Palestinian Authority does not conform to world values ​​nor does it serve the interests of those who suffer in UNRWA prisons. Dissolving UNRWA and having UNHCR relocate these chained people is a human rights imperative. If the international community allows UNRWA to continue, by 2030 there will be seven million refugees, and by 2050 probably 10 million or more. Another 274 children are born every day in UNRWA’s 58 prisons. Every year another 100,000 children are denied freedom. It is immoral to allow UNRWA to exist for even one more day.

The writer is the director of Palestine Media Watch. Your book ‘Cheated, ‘co-authored with Nan Jacques Zilberdik, was hailed by Robert Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch, as “one of the most important books he has ever handled.” He was recognized as one of the “100 most important people in the world who positively influence Jewish life or the State of Israel”, by ‘The Algemeiner’.


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