Articles: UNRWA in the Gaza Strip is Counterproductive

Posted By on June 19, 2015

It must have come as a great shock to the so-called international community that in June 2015 the so-called refugees, the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip protested that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was giving resources they deserved to other Palestinians.

The Gaza Palestinians demanded of UNRWA that it not cut the funds allocated to them, nor transfer those resources to the Palestinians who remained in the Yarmouk refugee camp in south Damascus, despite the fact 150,000 had fled the camp because of the Syrian War They also demanded that the international community, implicitly the U.S. and the EU, provide extra funding for their needs.

Perhaps because of this protest, Robert Turner, Director of UNRWA in Gaza, without reason or explanation, announced his intention to leave his position in mid July 2015. He has held that position since May 2012. His resignation might have been a cause of regret if he had not continued to refer, inaccurately, to the Gaza Strip as Occupied Palestinian Territory. He seems unaware that since 2007 it has been ruled by the terrorist group Hamas. He has always been a true nave believer in the self-serving fallacious Palestinian Narrative of Victimhood.

Sometimes people in power do speak truth, or part of it, to the rest of us. On June 2, 2015, commemorating more than 65 years since UNRWA was established, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon remarked that it was never meant to exist for this long. Ban regards it as a political failure.

Yes, UNRWA has been in the Gaza Strip for longer than anticipated. It was created by the UN General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) of December 8, 1949. It was given only two functions. One was to carry out, in collaboration with local governments, the direct relief and works programs as recommended by the Economic Survey Mission. The other was to consult, with governments in the area, measures to be taken when international assistance for relief and works projects was no longer available.

Neither of these functions corresponds to its real activity, nor has the explicit, if unduly optimistic, expectation come to fruition that constructive measures would be taken to end international assistance for relief. Overall, there are now 5.5 million registered Palestinian refugees, and 58 camps in various countries that house 1.5 million. Of these, in the Gaza Strip, there are 1.2 million registered refugees and 8 camps. The startling reality is that UNRWA is not a relief and works program providing jobs on public works projects as originally intended, but a social welfare agency for Palestinians.

The Palestinians are dependent on that agency even more as the population of the small Gaza Strip has increased and with a high fertility rate that is expected to increase anther half a million by 2020. The unemployment rate is one of the highest in the world.Youth unemployment is more than 50%.

In the Gaza Strip UNRWA employs more than 13,000 people. It has been particularly active in health and education programs. With a health staff of 1,000, it now has 22 primary health centers and other facilities that record 2.1 million visits.It has 245 schools in 130 buildings, with a staff of 9.600 teachers, and 232,000 pupils. It provides regular food packages. In the year 2013 UNRWA received $1.1 billion in donations: the U.S. gave $294 million and the European Union $216 million.

Turner continually demanded the lifting of the Israeli blockade that, he argued inexplicably, costs the international community millions of dollars. The partial Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the area undoubtedly has caused some problems and difficulties for the Gaza residents. But, continuation of the blockade results not from lack of humanitarian concerns, but from the crucial need to prevent Hamas rocket attacks and ensure the security of Israel.

Indeed, the UN Secretary-Generals Panel of Inquiry on the May 31, 2010 flotilla incident concluded in September 2011 that Israel faced a real threat to its security, that the naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure, and that its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.

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Articles: UNRWA in the Gaza Strip is Counterproductive

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