Monday, September 10, 2007

UNRWA: Give us money to repeat our mistakes

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency today appealed to international donors for 55 million dollars to fund the first year of rehabilitation and emergency assistance to refugees from the Nahr el Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Launching the appeal, UNRWA estimated that a high percentage of the camp’s infrastructure had been “put out of action” by fierce fighting raging since the third week of May. The Commissioner General of UNRWA, Karen AbuZayd, joined the Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora in launching the multi-million dollar appeal in Beirut on Monday.
(AFP has the number at $400 million.)

Let's step back for a minute.

The only reason that there are "refugee" camps in Lebanon is because Lebanon refuses to allow Arabs of Palestinian descent to become citizens of Lebanon, no matter how many generations later. (In 1994, however, a law was passed in Lebanon instantly allowing a half million Syrians to become citizens of Lebanon.) In addition, Lebanon places severe restrictions on what kinds of jobs Palestinian Arabs may have there, and it has laws that de facto discriminate against Palestinian Arabs.

If people were truly interested in ending Palestinian Arab suffering in Lebanon, they would pressure the Lebanese government to stop its discrimination against Palestinian Arabs, allowing them to integrate into society and dismantling the camps.

The UNRWA runs the "refugee" camps in Lebanon. Yet the UNRWA has allowed terrorists to operate freely in these camps, as evidenced by what happened in Nahr el Bared. By any objective measure, the UNRWA policy in Lebanon has utterly failed.

While in the immediate future the suffering of the Nahr el Bared residents do need to be alleviated, no money should be given unless a clear path is created where Palestinian Arabs in Lebanon can live there without discrimination. UNRWA is a joke and has proven that over sixty years they have not helped Palestinian Arabs in Lebanon - on the contrary, they have allowed the suffering to continue, the UN has not lifted a finger to pressure Lebanon to stop its discriminatory policies, and they have allowed the Arab nations to use Palestinians as pawns in the name of a bogus "Palestinian national interest" - sacrificing everyday Palestinian Arabs on the altar of a pretense of their best interests.

A large part of Palestinian Arab suffering is a direct result of UN policies that pretend to help them. To give the UN more money without forcing them to fix their mistakes is folly.