UNRWA is a deeply flawed organization that manages to get worse.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East claims that its mission is one of humanitarian work devoid of any politics but that is plainly not so. It proclaims to be independent when it it is clearly not.
From its website:
- “Independence is understood to mean that “humanitarian action must be autonomous from the political, economic, military or other objectives that any actor may hold with regard to areas where humanitarian action is being implemented.” In other words, without independence and the autonomy that it affords the Agency, UNRWA would be at risk of being diverted from its humanitarian trajectory and its commitment to the other three Humanitarian Principles of humanity, impartiality, and neutrality.“
- “It is only by being truly independent that UNRWA can respect the principles of neutrality and impartiality, and therefore only be driven by humanity.“
While UNRWA claims to understand that neutrality, impartiality and independence are critical for its mission, it remains a tool for the roughly 30,000 Palestinian Arabs who work for the agency, the 6.4 million (and growing) people who are registered with the agency, and the global anti-Zionist community which enjoy ripping at the seams of the Jewish State.
In time for the holidays and tax planning, UNRWA continues to ask Americas for money, seemingly unsatisfied with the $7.6 billion that tax payers have given to the Palestinians since 1993, which has yielded no peace. The agency which claims that politics is poison to its mission, led with politics in its 2021 year-end appeal:
UNRWA asked for money for “families in Gaza and Lebanon to secure their basic needs, giving them options and hope. (UNRWA’s emphasis),” ideally with donations of as large as $1,000. The reason that they need this money is declared in the opening lines: “Occupation, repeated military assaults, crippling blockades.” Are these three lines anything but smears and politics? Are they even factually correct? Since when is Lebanon under theses stresses? The Gazans initiate the repeated military assaults and are the cause of the blockade.
Knowing that it led with inflammatory language, the second paragraph backtracks and starts “Politics aside,” Indeed, politics. What else can be expected from an organization run by the largest political machine in the world, which makes it particular inept at carrying out humanitarian missions.
UNRWA is a prison which keeps millions of people tethered to the organization with the threat that if they deregister, they will no longer be classified as refugees and not entitled to millions of dollars from Israel.
It unilaterally extended its mandate beyond the contours of its formation which called for its wards to be either compensated or settled somewhere, with the declaration in April 2020 that it will live on until “a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution.” That’s ridiculous. Why would a future-compensated descendant of a refugee living in Lebanon continue to need free housing, healthcare and education from UNRWA while Israelis and Palestinians debate water rights in the Jordan Valley?
And it is bad at what it does. It is proportionately staffed by 20 times as many people as the UNHR which cares for actual refugees. Palestinian parents who have a choice, send their children to non-UNRWA schools.
UNRWA is a political tool dressed as a humanitarian organization. It is an embarrassment for the UN, the Palestinians forced to stay tethered to the over-staffed beast, and the well-meaning countries and people who fall for the marketing and advertising blitz with donations of hard-earned monies.