UNRWA does not need more funding, it must be closed – editorial

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Swedish government are convening an international ministerial conference in Brussels on Tuesday on UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
According to its own website, “The purpose of the conference is to strengthen the mutual responsibility of UNRWA and the international community to protect the rights and enhance the human development of Palestinian refugees, providing the Agency with the financial stability and predictability of funding required. fully and effectively fulfill its mandate from the United Nations General Assembly. “

The website calls on member states to pledge additional funds to the organization, and the funding crisis is high on the meeting’s agenda. However, what UNRWA considers “political attacks” are attempts to question the functioning and even the need for an organization dedicated exclusively to Palestinian refugees.

Recently, there has been a drop in the countries that fund the organization, largely in the wake of reports showing where the money is going. In 2019, UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl resigned amid scandal after an internal UNRWA report found “management problems”.

Organizations, including IMPACT-se and Palestina Media Watch, among others, have extensively investigated textbooks and the education system in UNRWA-run schools and found clear support for terrorism and the cult of martyrdom. Cases have also been recognized of Hamas creating terror tunnels and weapons warehouses in UNRWA schools in Gaza, using children as human shields.

A Palestinian health worker leaves a health center run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in al-Fari’ah refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on 8 April 2021 (credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA / REUTERS)

US President Joe Biden reversed a decision by Donald Trump in April and restored $ 235 million in aid to the organization, but last month the UK cut its funding in half and other donor countries have also cut. support after questions raised about their operations.

UNRWA was founded in 1949 to provide what was to be a temporary solution until the “Palestinian refugee problem” was resolved. Most other refugees are cared for by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and, unlike Palestinians, their status is not passed on to future generations.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, have their own agency and have been granted perpetual refugee status. According to UNRWA, Palestinian refugees are not just people who fled the nascent Jewish state during the 1948 War of Independence and have not yet been resettled, but include the descendants of those refugees. Someone born this week, during the UNRWA donor meeting, can be considered a refugee from a war that occurred more than seven decades ago.

It is ironic that Jordan is the sponsor of the meeting, given that the majority of the Jordanian population is Palestinian and many meet UNRWA’s definition of being “refugees”, despite having Jordanian citizenship.

UNRWA has not solved the “refugee problem”. Rather, it has created one bigger than ever. While some 726,000 Arabs were originally under the agency’s auspices in 1949, the figure, more than 70 years later, now stands at 5.7 million, almost eight times that. In other words, it has aggravated the refugee problem and, at the same time, perpetuated the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Instead of moving on with their lives, Palestinians in places like Gaza, with the encouragement of UNRWA, continue to grasp a false dream of one day “going back” to Jaffa, Haifa, Safed or Jerusalem. Far from transforming refugees into self-sufficient individuals, the agency has fostered dependency and a culture of rights. This is what donor countries are now being asked to finance with even larger amounts of money than before.

If, after more than 70 years, Palestinian refugees still need more help than any other group of refugees, such as those struggling to enter Europe in the humanitarian crisis along the Polish-Belarusian border, then UNRWA clearly has failed.

UNRWA does not need more funds, it must be closed.


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