UNRWA: The Scam That Keeps on Scamming by Ruth King

Many years ago, when I graduated from college, a friend and classmate got her first job in the visitor’s service of the United Nations. There were two perks.  One was a free parking space and the other privileges to the debates in the General Assembly. Thanks to this I attended many sessions in the gallery as her guest. The “distinguished” members most often started their disquisitions by telling a humorous anecdote from their respective nations. They suffered greatly in translation but I can offer the punch line to a real UN joke–namely The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to carry out relief and works programs for Palestine refugees. The Agency began operations on 1 May 1950. In June 2017, its mandate and funding come up for review. It deserves to be shut down.

First of all, it is a numbers racket. According to its own statement: “When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.”

Even if we accept the questionable number of 750,000 Arabs who left Israel, how is it that sixty-seven years later–again from the home page, we read: “UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees. It has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as ‘persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.’ The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration.“

Again, in its words: “UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty.”

Since World War Two, hundreds of millions of displaced persons from every continent have been relocated. They have had to learn new languages, new alphabets and adapt to new cultural mores. They have become participants in the politics of their adopted countries. How is it then that only Palestinian Arabs merit assistance? Furthermore, why has the status of “refugee” become a heritable entitlement, bequeathed from generation to generation?

When members of the media traipse through the camps, they are seldom shown nearby housing with facilities and running water.  Instead local Arabs stage themselves near running sewers, cynically using children as props. As soon as the journalists move on to the next stop in their bash-Israel “fact finding” tour, the cast moves back to their updated lodgings.

Today the world is confronted and affronted by a tsunami of refugees from the Middle East. They flee jihad and tribal and civil warfare. The demand for haven and social services is enormous and yet UNRWA services only Palestinian Arabs in camps in Gaza (why Gaza, which is now ruled by Arabs?), Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

In the midst of the mayhem in Syria, on Feb. 1, 2017 Mohammed Abdi Adar, a Somali national, assumed his duties as Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the Syrian Arab Republic.   He describes his mandate thus: “It is an important opportunity to serve Palestine refugees in Syria,” said Mr. Abdi Adar. “I look forward to working with the Syrian Government and other partners to help alleviate the suffering of Palestine refugees, who like the Syrians have experienced the dire consequences of the crisis over the last six years.” Why only the “Palestinians?” This is a form of “profiling” that raises no hackles among Western hypocrites.

And UNWRA’s so called relief is a canard since in its own words, conditions have worsened: “Over the years, these camps have transformed from temporary ‘tent cities’ into hyper-congested masses of multi-story buildings with narrow alleys, characterized by high concentrations of poverty and extreme overcrowding. The camps are considered to be among the densest urban environments in the world, but because camp structures were built for temporary use, over the decades the buildings have become overcrowded, critically substandard and in many cases life-threatening.”

Why after 67 years are Palestinian Arabs a priority when hundreds of thousands are facing death and violence perpetrated by Arabs on other Arabs?

By the cynical sustaining of squalid camps and by nursing irredentist chimeras UNRWA prolongs the Arab/Israel war, promotes terrorism, and cons its supporters with pleas for money. They are grifters writ large.

Nonetheless, the United States is the largest donor to UNRWA. One can only hope that former Governor of South Carolina,  Nikki Haley, who made an outstanding debut as the new United States Ambassador to the United Nations in denouncing the organization’s anti-Israel obsession, will make a speech declaring the U.S. will defund UNRWA when its mandate comes up for renewal in June.

Drain the swamp!

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Editorial Board: Herbert Zweibon, Ruth King

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