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UNRWA and Terror Groups
UNRWA Camps Used to Train Terrorists
The UNRWA-terror link is not a new problem. Over 25 years ago, Lebanese ambassador to the UN Edward Ghorra complained that UNRWA camps in
In recent years, similar connections have been found in Judea,
One camp, Jenin, received more attention than others, when the IDF was met with strong resistance from terrorists located there in April 2002. A report to Marwan Barghouti, the head of the Tanzim, the military wing of Fatah, described the UNRWA camp as "characterized by an exceptional presence of fighters who take the initiative [to perform] nationalist activities...They are ready for self-sacrifice by any means. It is not surprising that Jenin [is nicknamed] the suiciders' capital A'simat Al-Istashidin, in Arabic]"
UNRWA administrators claim to be unaware of terrorist activities in the camps. Karen Abu-Zayd, for example, declared: "We just don't see anything like this." It is unfeasible that camps could become "suiciders' capitals" without the knowledge of UNRWA personnel. These denials imply, at best, turning a blind eye, and at worst, implicit consent.
Terrorist Domination of UNRWA Labor Unions
It seems unlikely that UNRWA's administration would not know about terrorist activities in their camps, when Hamas is the leading party in refugee-camp elections. The various UNRWA labor unions (teachers, civil service and general UNRWA workers) hold elections every three years to elect 27 representatives. The PLO, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine all run for seats; all of these parties, except for the PLO, are on the European Union's and the United States' list of terrorist groups. Hamas has dominated UNRWA's unions in the Gaza Strip since 1990, often winning all 11 seats in the UNRWA teachers' union, giving them complete control of education. Results for the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas's parent organization, have been similar in
Senior UNRWA officials have openly supported Palestinians' armed campaign against the State of Israel. In 2008, Amir Al-Misehal, the head of the UNRWA civil service sector stated "what was taken by force will only be restored by force and not by peace or resolutions." Karen Abu-Zayd attended and spoke at the same event. The UNRWA workers' union in
When UNRWA's administration started monitoring workers, the unions issued a statement opposing these activities. Union heads refused to report on UNRWA teachers' terrorist activities, and wrote letters calling on John Ging, then-director of UNRWA's operations, to reinstate teachers who had been fired on suspicion of links to terror. In addition, in a 2005 event honoring 100 teachers from Khan Yunis (an UNRWA camp in
This is only a fraction of the examples of cooperation between UNRWA and terrorists. There are long lists of teachers and other workers for UNRWA that are active members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Fatah, Al-Qassam Brigades, Al-Aqsa Brigades, and other known terrorist groups.
Kushner, Arlene, UNRWA: Overview and Policy Critique. Center for Near East Policy Research, Ltd.,
Chapter 6: UNHCR and its Achievements
In previous weeks we have presented the history of UNRWA and its failures as an organization that is mean to dela with the Palestinian refugge problem. This week, we present some information on UNHCR, the U.N. 's other refugee agency, as a contrast to UNRWA and a possible partner for future refugee rehabilitation. The Israel Initiative proposes that Palestinian refugees are transferred to UNHCR's jurisdiction as a part of the first step in any peace process.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on December 14, 1950, to help Europeans displaced in World War II. The agency was established with a three-year mandate, and became a more permanent part of the UN after facing its first refugee emergency when the
UNHCR defines a refugee as "any person who is outside the country of his nationality, or if he has no nationality, the country of his former habitual residence, because he has or had well-rounded fear of persecution by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion and is unable or, because of such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of the government of the country of his nationality, or, if he has no nationality, to return to the country of his former habitual residence."
This definition does not include descendants of refugees. It also does not specify where these refugees are from, because UNHCR takes care of all refugees, except for Palestinian refugees of the 1948 War of Independence.
UNHCR is "mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide." This role includes responding to emergency situations as well as providing aid with shelter, health, water and education. UNHCR also strives to find "durable solutions" for the refugees, through three options for seeking asylum and finding safe refuge: voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement.
UNHCR By the Numbers
UNHCR works in 118 countries, with a staff of about 6,650 with a budget of over $2 billion in 2009. The agency currently deals with 34.4 people: 14.4 million internally displaced people, 10.5 million refugees, 2 million returnees, 6.6 million stateless people and over 800,000 asylum seekers. By contrast, UNRWA has a staff of nearly 25,000 to deal with 4.7 million refugees in five areas, with a budget of $545.6 million.
Chapter 7: How Refugees are Treated Around the World
In previous weeks, we presented the history of UNRWA and its failures as an organization meant to deal with the Palestinian refugee problem. Last week, we presented some information on UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, as a contrast to UNRWA and a possible partner for future refugee rehabilitation. The Israel Initiative proposes that Palestinian refugees are transferred to UNHCR's jurisdiction as a part of the first step in any peace process. The following are ways in which UNHCR rehabilitates refugees, and recent examples of this course of action.
Three Possible Solutions: Voluntary Repatriation, Local Integration or Resettlement
UNHCR's ultimate goal is to find "durable solutions that will allow [refugees] to rebuild their lives in dignity and peace," offering three options to refugees. UNHCR has helped millions of refugees achieve one of these "durable solutions" since its inception.
The option of voluntary repatriation entails helping refugees return to their homes. This is the solution of choice for the largest percentage of refugees; however, in order to be successful, repatriation requires the commitment of the country of origin to help these people reintegrate in society and ensure a stable living environment.
Many refugees do not have the option of repatriation because their countries are involved in continual conflict or because they fear persecution upon their return. Some such refugees find a home in the country of asylum, integrating in the local community. This complex, slow process imposes demands on the refugee and the receiving society; integration includes cultural, economic, legal and social aspects. The culmination of the local-integration process is obtaining the nationality of the country of asylum.
Some refugees, in addition to not being able to go home for various reasons, live in perilous situations in their place of asylum. These individuals are resettled in a third country by UNHCR. The resettlement country grants refugees legal and physical protection as well as rights similar to those of citizens, usually allowing for refugees to become naturalized citizens. Governments and NGOs facilitate integration by providing services such as cultural orientation as well as language and career training. The
Rehabilitation Options and the Palestinian Refugees
Of the three options, resettlement seems to be the one that most suits the Palestinian refugees. Voluntary repatriation is not possible: it will lead to the desrtruction of the state of
Resettlement, however, is realistic for a number of reasons.
First, many Palestinians want to leave the Middle East, especially those in
Second, countries are willing to accept these refugees. Although the Palestinian refugees' Arab brothers do not want to help, in order to maintain the Palestinian narrative, others are more welcoming. The president of
Recent Examples of Refugee Rehabilitation Successes
The UN refugee agency's program to resettle Iraqi refugees began in 2007, and as of October 2009 over 80,000 refugees from Iraq have been resettled in a total of 14 countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Norway and Sweden. This includes the 1,500 Palestinian refugees that lived in the Al-Waleed refugee camp in
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