Writing about UNRWA from the perspective of an MSW community organization social work professional, suffice it to say that the function of a social work refugee agency is to help people get on with their lives.
Instead, however, UNRWA represents a social work agency which forces 5.3 million descendants of Arab refugees from the 1948 war to live as refugees in perpetuity, in the continuing indignity of 59 “temporary” refugee camps under false pretenses, under the fake promise of the right of return to villages that no longer exist.
Yet the future was not on the agenda of the UNRWA international donors conference this week in Brussels.
Towards that conference, our center dispatched a team of photographers to get a sense of the current atmosphere in the teeming Aida and Deheisha UNRWA refugee camps in the heart of Bethlehem.
They returned with 915 pictures of massive murals in both refugee facilities, all of which depict one theme: the war against the Jews to liberate their lost Arab villages by force of arms.
These murals of life in temporary UNRWA facilities will soon be the subject of a virtual UNRWA photo exhibit.
All this begs the question: where does UNRWA go from here?
Here are five policy suggestions that should have been on the agenda of the International Donors Conference to detox UNRWA;
1. Cancel the new UNRWA war curriculum, based on Jihad, martyrdom and the “right of return by force of arms”, which have no place in UN education, whose theme is “Peace Begins Here”.
2. Disarm UNRWA schools and cease paramilitary training in all UNRWA schools. It is an absurdity that UNRWA, a UN agency with a purported commitment to “peace education”, allows such arms training and missile fire from its premises.
3. Insist that UNRWA dismiss employees affiliated with Hamas in accordance with laws of donor nations that forbid aid to any agency that employs members of a terrorist organization.
4. Introduce UNHCR standards to advance resettlement of fourth- and fifth-generation refugees from the 1948 war who have spent seven decades relegated to refugee status. Current UNRWA policy is that any Arab refugee resettlement would interfere with the “right of return” to pre-1948 Arab localities. By adopting the stance of Arab maximalists, UNRWA flouts its commitment to the future of Arab refugees from 1948 and their descendants.
5. Demand an audit of the 1.5 billion dollar budget which flows from 68 nations and 33 nongovernment organizations. This would address documented reports of wasted resources, duplication of services and undesired wads of cash to terror groups which now dominate the UNRWA population .