Sorry, Chris Gunness, but UNRWA really should be abolished
YNet published a nice op-ed by Yoni Dayan yesterday advocating the dissolution of UNRWA:
The time has come to admit the truth: The world cares more about the life of a Palestinian than the life of a Syrian, Sudanese, Kenyan, Colombian or Congolese.
This, quite simply, is an axiom, proven day in and day out since 1949, when the United Nations split the existing global refugee agency to created a special organization tasked with caring only for Palestinian refugees. To this day, the international community has two active refugee agencies: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
An in-depth look at these two agencies reveals the depth of the international community’s preferential treatment of Palestinian refugees over other displaced people throughout the world. The UNHCR, which cares for 33.9 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDP) in more than 125 countries throughout the world, has a budget of just $3 billion. UNWRA, which cares for the five million descendents of Palestinian refugees, has a budget of over $1 billion. Per person, that is $88.50 for each refugee/IDP around the world, and $200 for each Palestinian refugee.
There is much more.
Chris Gunness from UNRWA responds with his usual hand waving, hoping that people don’t notice that he is not addressing the real issues. For example, while it is true that UNRWA might vet employees for known terror ties, this by no means proves that UNRWA schools are neutral and do not teach hate for Israel. I have proven that they, in fact, do, along with support for jihad and “martyrdom.”
My brief response in YNet:
Chris Gunness ignores a few facts. For one, unlike UNHCR, UNRWA has no means to remove refugees from that status. As a result we have an absurd situation where hundreds of thousands of citizens of a state – Jordan – are considered “refugees.” [Note – actually, the number is 2 million.]
Similarly, all the “refugees” that live in the West Bank and Gaza would not be considered refugees by any sane definition, since they live in their own land, almost all under the rule of their own people.
Gunness also fails to explain why only Palestinian Arabs must wait decades for a political solution before the UNRWA tries to resettle them in other countries. Perhaps this isn’t “preferred” but examples from Lebanon and Egypt show that huge numbers would choose to become citizens if only they were given the chance.
We’ve seen these justifications before for UNRWA’s existence as a separate, unique agency for a single growing “refugee” population, and they do not hold water.
A more detailed post on why UNRWA needs to be abolished, using points that Gunness always ignores, is here.