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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

What's wrong with this heartwarming story?

From UNRWA:
West Bank refugee invents engine that runs on air

A West Bank mechanic has harnessed the power of air with his invention of a new, greener motor engine that operates by air compression, without the need for fuel.

Imad Saleh Hassouneh, 37, who maintained truck engines for 22 years, said: “My invention was purely accidental. A truck moved forward when I was repairing its engine using compressed air. I realised that compressed air has the power to propel the engine so I started experimenting with a truck engine.”

Imad, a refugee from Jalazone in the West Bank, added: “I succeeded in inventing an engine that operates on air compression rather than fuel, and obtained a patent from the Palestinian Ministry of Economics. I also received support from Palestinian Prime Minister Mr Salam Fayyad who honoured me and granted me a car to experiment on.”

After he completed his 9th grade at UNRWA’s Jalazone boys’ school, the first Intifada started and he was obliged to assist his father in his mechanic shop in order to help support his younger brothers and sisters.

Smiling, Imad said: “I have 13 brothers and three sisters. In other words we are 17 people and my father wants to have more. I am the eldest, and apparently the cleverest in the family. We received our education at an UNRWA school, and we still get assistance and rations from UNRWA.

“My mother, father and uncles still live inside the camp. I moved with my wife and children to a house near the camp and near the mechanic shop my father established.”
Three cheers for Imad. He's being creative, inventive and working hard to support his family, and is without a doubt a credit to his people.

But - why is he still considered a "refugee" by UNRWA?

He doesn't live in a refugee camp - he moved out and lives in his own house, in his own land. He earns a living. He lives in, and is presumably a citizen of, the Palestinian Arab territories.

His father had, or has, a job as well.

If there was any desire for UNRWA to wean people off of their "refugee" status, Imad Hassouneh should be at the top of their list. He should be considered a success story, and could serve as a model of what Palestinian Arabs aspire to.

But instead, he still gets free food and education from UNRWA. Rather than help him gain his freedom from a welfare culture, UNRWA proudly keeps him and his family dependent. While real refugees around the globe are starving, people like Imad are happily accepting free food and services that they can afford to buy themselves.

This is not a success story. It is the story of how a UN agency is doing everything it can to treat millions of people like children, to shield them from responsibility for their own actions, and to raise their families with dignity.

UNRWA is constantly begging for more money to support the ever-growing "refugees" that they are responsible for. But are they doing anything to reduce the number of so-called refugees? Are they acting in any way as if they care about the donor nations who keep it afloat?

UNRWA has a 34-page document detailing exactly who is eligible for UNRWA services, what services they can apply for, and other information is great detail. It has one small section that describes the only way that a person can be removed from the UNRWA registration system: by dying.

Even if you support all of UNRWA's goals and you think that it does wonderful work, if you were a donor country, wouldn't you demand that UNRWA start working to reduce the number of people dependent on your aid?