Pity the Real Refugees
Pity the Real Refugees

It is now winter.  Thousands of lightly-clothed Syrian refugees are holed up in tents, in half-finished buildings and all over the place in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.  Refugees from the war with ISIS are in the same boat.

While outside countries fund by the billions, real refugees die.
Suddenly the United Nations has run out of money to keep them fed, warm and clothed.  Many of the elderly, the sick, children and babies will die.  Most will suffer for months.  Where is the world?  Where is humanity?

Is it because donor nations have not kept their promises to pay up? 

On the doorstep of the refugee camps money is flowing freely both for war and to keep the status quo of the Palestinian Arabs there in limbo.  There is plenty of money there but it is being used for other purposes, ignoring the human crisis in the Middle East.

While outside countries fund by the billions, real refugees die. As the United Nations cries, poor donor countries are allowing it to perpetuate endless conflict and permanent refugee status through UNWRA.

What is UNWRA?  It is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, initially aimed at a stated 750,000 refugees, now increased to over 5 million by including descendants born long after the events that caused their grandparents and parents to leave their homes. These numbers have been inflated with unreported deaths and a failure to insist on a proper census despite new technology being available for identification purposes.

What is interesting is that this UN agency is completely separate from the United Nations main refugee organisation, the United Nations Refugee Agency, whose mission it is to assist refugees displaced by conflict by offering humanitarian aid, resettlement and integration locally or migration options elsewhere and emergency response.  Refugee populations all over the world do not exist years after conflicts, only the one that UNWRA is responsible for.

Why are there two agencies? UNWRA is dedicated, as its website actually declares, to building solidarity for Palestinian refugees, not resettling them and in most cases not enabling those among them born in Arab countries to participate in the economies as equal citizens.  UNWRA’S aim is to provide protection and assistance for these 5 million people allowing their political issues to fester and not to give them the same services that are provided for refugees from other parts of the world. 

This monster continues to grow as the UN provides schools, books, uniforms, food vouchers, employs tens of thousands of local people and provides other services the population who are encouraged to keep the birth-rate high. As was shown in the last war in Gaza these poor refugees had huge amounts of money for military purposes flowing through their cities at the same time that the UN kept them all on the payroll.

This winter there is a very troubling question that donors to humanitarian aid causes should be asking:  Is the UN allowing politics to override its real mandate of assisting real refugees?  If billions of dollars of war materiel can be donated the Palestinians, can anyone justify the existence of UNWRA?

The time has come to shut down UNWRA and divert that budget to refugees who are not intent on using the UN’s money for a war machine. At the same time the United Nations Refugee Agency should make real efforts to resettle the people of Gaza into the twenty-one Arab countries where they belong, whose language they speak and where their integration as normal citizens would be almost immediate.