A battle erupted on Capitol Hill over the mandate of the organization charged with disbursing international aid to Palestinian refugees. Last week, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) challenged the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for including the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of Palestinian refugees among those who qualify for support. The addition of these descendants has inflated the numbers of refugees on UNRWA’s books from 750,000 in 1949 to 5 million today, making the problem nearly impossible to solve.
And those aren’t the only numbers that have ballooned. U.S. taxpayers have contributed $4.4 billion in UNRWA since 1948 — before inflation. In 2012 dollars, total U.S. taxpayer aid to the UNRWA tops $10 billion.
Here’s a spreadsheet of America’s yearly contributions to UNRWA, accompanied by the corresponding amounts in today’s dollars. The contribution data come from a recent Congressional Research Service report and a 1994 book entitled U.S. Official Statements: The Palestinian Refugees, published by the Institute for Palestine Studies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator determined the value of the U.S. contributions in today’s dollars. All amounts are approximate.