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UNRWA: Perpetuating the Palestinian Suffering

May 22, 2024

by: Cheryl Hauer, International Vice President

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Imagine for a moment that you are a member of a people group displaced by war or natural disaster. As such, have I got good news for you. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or UNHCR is at your service, working to fulfill its mandate to care for those caught in such unfortunate circumstances while the organization makes arrangements for resettlement. And they have a proven track record. In the past few decades, they have successfully resettled literally millions of refugees, finding solutions that not only benefited the victims but were sometimes a boon for the host nations as well.

The majority of refugee crises in the past seven decades were resolved through resettlement. In the first six months of 2023 alone, for example, over 400,000 refugees were either resettled to their home states or were successfully resettled in host countries. The UNHCR has been dealing with such crises since its inception in 1950. The fledgling organization was given a three-year mandate to help the millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes during the war. According to its website, however, as new refugee crises unfolded across the globe, its mandate was extended multiple times throughout the 20th century until a United Nations General Assembly resolution in 2003 made the mandate permanent.

It Only Gets Better

If, however, your “displaced” people group happens to be Palestinian, the news is even better. You actually have your very own UN agency that deals with you as a refugee population. No distractions, no other difficult negotiations regarding various other people groups, just you. Your organization is called the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees or UNRWA. But unlike the UNHCR, it makes no effort to solve your various refugee issues through resettlement. It is also the only UN agency dedicated to aiding refugees from one specific region or conflict, making you as the Palestinians the world’s oldest unsettled refugee population.

As a matter of fact, the UN rewrote its official definition of a refugee just for you. Unlike those refugee populations handled by the UNHRC, your children, their children and your descendants ad infinitum are all considered refugees.

UNRWA was established after six surrounding Arab armies invaded Israel in 1948. At the behest of Arab leaders, about 650,000 of the local Arab population in Israel were willingly displaced with the promise that the Jews would quickly be defeated, after which they could return to choose any home of their liking. However, that promise has yet to be kept. Today, with the help of UNRWA, that population has become entrenched, resulting in nearly 7 million people who qualify as refugees for UNRWA aid.

UNRWA has over 30,000 employees operating in Gaza, Judea and Samaria (the so-called West Bank), Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. These are mostly Palestinian workers with a small number of internationals in each location. The agency’s original mandate of providing employment and humanitarian aid while making arrangements for resettlement has shifted to delivering healthcare, schooling and social services to a population that has no intention of going anywhere. And the agency’s meager 1950’s income has mushroomed into a budget of over US $2 billion annually, supplied by governments and private agencies around the world.

Prior to the Hamas attacks on Israel in October 2023, UNRWA employed nearly 10,000 teachers in Gaza working in 700 schools and responsible for the education of over 300,000 students. Over a thousand UNRWA doctors and health care workers served millions of Palestinians annually in 140 hospitals and health care centers located throughout the Strip.

UNRWA’s Checkered History

Here, however, is where we discover that UNRWA might not be such good news after all. The word from their medical system is often that Israel is responsible for Palestinian deaths, that their Jewish neighbors deprive Palestinians of necessary medical care and that Israel is indeed a genocidal oppressor. However, by their own admission on UN sites, one of the reasons for their population growth is that the life expectancy among Gazans has increased dramatically over the past few years, a fact highly incompatible with genocide. And when UNWRA physicians established a presence in Gaza, the infant mortality rate was over 100 deaths per thousand births. Today, thanks to partnership with Israeli medical professionals, it has dropped to 25, another fact that speaks of a society that is growing, not shrinking at the hands of genocidal oppressors. It is also widely known that UNRWA doctors routinely agree with Hamas in greatly exaggerating the number of deaths during military actions with Israel.

In the wake of the October 7 massacre, the IDF has uncovered evidence of cooperation between the medical system and Hamas. Hospitals that serve as headquarters for the terrorist organization are widespread and Israel has presented solid proof that at least 12 Hamas terrorists actively involved in the horrific events of October 7 were actually UNRWA employees. Some believe the number is much higher, perhaps in the hundreds or even more.

Their education system has also come under scrutiny in the past with several attempts made by donor nations to force UNRWA to replace school textbooks filled with anti-Semitic propaganda and the glorification of death with resources that would help to create a generation who truly sought peace with Israel. Generations have been propagandized to believe that Israel has stolen their land and is bent on their destruction, and inculcated with a debilitating victim mentality. Educating 300,000 children sounds very noble, but indoctrinating them to hate and seek martyrdom as a means of killing Jews sounds more like prosecutable child abuse.

Over the years, UNRWA has repeatedly been accused of corruption and misuse of funds that have left the Palestinian people in poverty while the leadership grew rich behind a veneer of humanitarianism. It is important to note that it was not Israel that rejected the UN’s partition plan in 1947. Nor did Israel attack her Arab neighbors immediately after statehood, intentionally creating the refugee situation in the first place. It is the Arab world that has refused Israel’s repeated attempts at peace and a two-state agreement. And it is that same Arab world that has perpetuated the refugee situation and weaponized the Palestinian people in their attempts to delegitimize Israel.

Unfortunately, UNRWA has been their willing and enthusiastic partner for over 70 years. So much for good news.

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