"Arab Idol" winner Mohammed Assaf of Gaza made appeals to raise funds for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on Tuesday. UNRWA recently announced it will be unable to pay wages to its 30,000 staff members in December due to a $36 million deficit.
UNRWA began activities in 1950 to provide aid to the roughly 700,000 Arabs that left Israel during the War of Independence, as an entirely separate entity to the United Nation's main refugee agency, the UNHCR. No UN organization was established to aid the roughly 1 million Jewish refugees that fled or were expelled from Arab countries following 1948.
UNRWA has come under repeated criticism for what some see as its role in perpetuating the "refugee status" of those it serves.
Uniquely, "Palestinian refugee" status is "inherited" by the descendants of the original refugees, meaning that today the number of "Palestinian refugees" numbers 5 million in total. Instead of resettling them and helping them to rebuild their lives, however, UNRWA operates an extensive network of "refugee camps" in which residents are encouraged not to integrate into their host countries.
Currently Assaf is on tour in the US, where he has attacked the "Israeli occupation" in US news media.
In his recent statements, Assaf said "I call upon all to help fund and support UNRWA because that is the only way the people can survive and have a bit of hope at the end of the tunnel."
Just recently US congressmen have been pushing the State Department to investigate and justify massive American financial support to the organization following reports showing how UNRWA incites and radicalizes the "refugees" it serves.
Assaf was named as a UNRWA ambassador after winning the "Arab Idol" talent show. He reportedly dedicated the victory to the "shahids (martyrs)," terrorists who commit suicide attacks or die fighting Israel and the West.
The UNRWA website reveals Assaf went to perform at UN headquarters in New York for the "35th Day of International Solidarity with the Palestinian People" on November 25. He says his family cannot come to the US for his tour "because of the blockade."