DFID is the British international charitable agency which funds humanitarian services around the world. Now, DFID has applied strict standards to World Vision because of World Vision’s cooperation with Hamas.
Will DFID apply these standards to UNRWA?
Three years ago, I met with a senior official of DFID and asked if DFID would demand that UNRWA, a recipient of DFID assistance, would cease and desist in its cooperation with reconsider its aid to UNRWA, in light of the UNRWA cooperative relationship with Hamas, a indicated:
Two years later, my office followed up with a letter to DFID in this regard:
10th August 2014
To Whom it may concern,
It is hard to properly capture the incredulity our office expressed after reading the recent report in response to the Commission of Inquiry dealing with the Impact of Aid from the UK, published by the UK Parliamentary International Development Select Committee with respect to its impression and perception of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, (hereafter UNRWA). The Committee went to great lengths to praise UNRWA’s work and emphasise its centrality to the provision of basic services: “DFID’s funding to UNRWA plays a vital role in enabling UNRWA to deliver basic services.” However, perhaps in order to provide so-called “balance”, it also made reference to “inefficiencies” and “room for improvement.”
What was most shocking was the Report’s failure to mention any myriad of failings that the Committee had received from our office, including but not limited to the opportunity to overhaul the current “war curriculum”. It is this curriculum that is currently being taught in UNRWA schools and the opportunity to replace it with a more appropriate alternative has been missed. Our office had sent this and other abuses to the Committee as written evidence, as well as having third parties raise the issue with members of the Committee, in addition to Rebecca Smith, (the Deputy Head (London) Palestinian Team Middle East and North Africa Department, DfID) – it would seem to no avail. If that were not sufficient, the sight of so much misappropriated concrete and cement having been invested in Hamas’ terror tunnels ought to, at minimum, have been mentioned in the Report. This constitutes a fraud of tens of millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money, on which the Committee has been silent.
Much of the Report was based on the premise that irrespective of the peace process, Israel should be made to subordinate its security concerns to facilitate an expansion of Palestinian economic dynamism and entrepreneurial opportunity. It is bewildering that the scepticism displayed to Israel in the Report was inversely proportional to the hope and possibility shown to Palestinian groups, as reported by various NGOs, chief among them UNRWA. After all, the recent conflict has seen UNRWA schools to be used as arms depots on at least three occasions, hardly the work of an objective organisation with a billion dollar budget.
An opportunity for the Committee to exercise its constitutional, fiduciary and democratic oversight responsibilities to properly audit and oversee that British taxpayers’ money go to the uses it was destined for has been missed, and I hope this note provides the opening to rectify the situation.
David Gross, Deputy Director, Center for Near East Policy Research.
No answer was received to this letter.