Will UNRWA choose bankruptcy over mending its ways?
By: World Israel News Staff
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) announced Wednesday that it may stop providing services in all of its operating areas starting September due to its chronic financial crisis, UNRWA spokesman Sami Mushasha said.
Mushasha told the official Palestinian WAFA news agency that the money UNRWA recently received from European countries, which amounts to $200 million, will be enough for several months, and that the financial crisis will recur in September unless something is done to cover the deficit and to provide regular contributions to UNRWA.
UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl told donors in Brussels that UNRWA may not open its schools in the coming academic year as a result of its most serious deficit in its 50-year history.
He said that food subsidies to around one million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip may stop as soon as June if UNRWA is unable to collect $200 million.
The UN agency, dedicated solely to so-called Palestinian refugees, has been facing financial straits after President Donald Trump slashed millions in US aid to the organization.
In January, the Trump administration cut its funding to UNRWA, demanding that it undertake fundamental reforms.
The State Department notified UNRWA that the US is withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment to the body.
It also made clear that additional US donations will be contingent on UNRWA making major changes. The agency has been heavily criticized by Israel for being the cause of, and not the solution to, Palestinian issues.
The State Department said it was releasing the rest of the installment — $60 million — to prevent the agency from running out of cash by the end of the month and closing down.
The US is UNWRA’s largest donor, supplying nearly 30 percent of its budget.
Palestinian ‘Refugees’: Unique Status and Legacy
The Palestinians have a unique definition for their status as “refugees” which has permitted them to vastly inflate the number of Palestinian refugees. Specifically, refugee status for Palestinians is passed on to succeeding generations and is unaffected by citizenship from other countries, in contrast to the definition of refugee status for every other refugee population in the world.
Therefore, the vast majority of the “refugees” in Jordan, more than two million, are citizens of Jordan who identify as Palestinian.
Israel has argued for years that the UN and the Palestinians are working to perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem and oppose any attempt to seek a solution.
Furthermore, the Palestinians’ status as refugees ensures an endless flow of international aid and has other financial ramifications.
A so-called Palestinian refugee receives quadruple the amount of aid that a Syrian, Iraqi or African refugee receives from the United Nations.
A study released in September shows that in 2016 UNRWA, which provides assistance solely to Palestinians, spent an average of $246 for each of the 5.3 million Palestinians it defines as refugees, while the UNHCR spent only a quarter of that, $58 per refugee, on non-Palestinians.