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Monday, June 14, 2010

Why Arab countries don't meet their UNRWA pledges

Financial Times has an article that mentions that Arab nations are being criticized for not coming close to meeting their pledges to pay for UNRWA's budget:
Figures show that members of the Arab League have consistently provided less funding than promised to the United Nations agency charged with supporting the Palestinian refugee community.

Chris Gunness of the UN Relief and Works Agency says: “The oil boom has seen the coffers of many Arab states swell to the tune of billions of dollars. Surely, it is now payback time to help fund education and healthcare for some of the most disadvantaged people living on their own doorstep.”

The agency provides schooling, healthcare and financial aid to millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. But it is faced with a budget shortfall of $90m this year and is seeking more funds urgently, not least from the Arab world.

Speaking in New York this year, Filippo Grandi, UNRWA’s commissioner-general, pointed to an Arab League resolution that member states should provide at least 7.7 per cent of the agency’s general budget. Mr Grandi said that in spite of the pledge, Arab states’ contributions stand at only 1.5 per cent.

The 7.7 per cent commitment is for the general budget, which accounts for core activities such as schools and hospitals, and was made as early as 1987. It has been reiterated since, most recently last September.

Based on that pledge, Arab League states are currently about $450m in arrears to UNRWA, with Saudi Arabia accounting for $150m of the shortfall.
Then, at the end of the article, FT.com explains why funds earmarked for Gaza reconstruction by Arab nations have not been forthcoming - and it has nothing to do with Israel:
Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, visited Gaza on Sunday, one of only a few high-level politicians from abroad to travel there.

Mr Moussa stressed that the funds earmarked for reconstruction could only find their way into Gaza after a reconciliation agreement between Fatah, the more pro-western group that controls the West Bank, and Hamas.
Arabs know very well that Hamas is the problem. They know that they do not want Hamas to gain more power. Even the PA is happy to see Hamas pressured by the embargo (as Ha'aretz reported yesterday.)

Why hasn't the mainstream media caught up to the plain facts that Arabs know all too well? 

Because they are so heavily invested in the "Israeli blockade stopping aid" mantra that they refuse to report anything that contradicts their received wisdom of the past three years.