The Palestinian Authority Cabinet on Sunday denounced the statement of UNRWA official Andrew Whitley, who said Palestinian refugees should give up their right to return and resettle in Arab countries.Does the UNRWA mandate say anything about UN 194?
Whitley, outgoing New York director of the UN refugee agency, said refugees should not live in the "cruel illusion" that they will return. He said UNRWA did not publicly advocate the issue, which was not "politically palatable."
At the weekly Cabinet meeting in Ramallah, ministers expressed surprise at the comments in light of UNRWA's mandate to assist refugees until they returned to their homes in accordance with UN resolution 194.
Not at all.
From the UNRWA website:
UNRWA was originally mandated to:There is nothing in UNRWA's mandate that is at all dependent on the outdated and irrelevant UNGA Resolution 194. The PA cabinet is lying.
"carry out direct relief and works programmes in collaboration with local governments"
"consult with the Near Eastern governments concerning measures to be taken preparatory to the time when international assistance for relief and works projects is no longer available", and
plan for the time when relief was no longer needed.
UNRWA’s contemporary mandate is to provide relief, human development and protection services to Palestine refugees and persons displaced by the 1967 hostilities in its fields of operation: Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, West Bank and the Gaza Strip. UNRWA’s mandate has been repeatedly renewed by the UN General Assembly. The current mandate runs till 30 June 2011.
While we are at it, UNRWA's Chris Gunness wrote a letter to Hudson-NY in response to an article by Khaled Abu Toameh that we linked to asking why everyone is lying to PalArab "refugees."
The facts speak for themselves. The proportion of refugees living in camps has steadily declined from about one hundred per cent at the time of our creation over sixty years ago, to just one third today.
And in real numbers? The number of "refugees" in camps has roughly doubled since 1949, to 1,396,368 registered refugees as of January 2010. That number is not decreasing, and it never will. One big reason is that UNRWA has no mechanism to remove "refugees" from its calculations outside of death, as opposed to UNHCR which has a detailed definition of how refugees lose their status.
Gunness further writes
As with refugees assisted by UNHCR, the refugee status of UNRWA refugees is transferred through the generations pending a just and lasting solution.While UNHCR extends refugee benefits to family members (Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees page 12), it does not give them the status of refugees in perpetuity.
That's why the number of world refugees has been generally decreasing and those of Palestinian Arabs inexorably increasing. That's why in 2009 there were some 10.4 million refugees worldwide under UNHCR's responsibility and 4.8 million UNRWA "refugees" just from one tiny sliver of land from 62 years ago.
One of UNRWA's biggest problems is the utter inability to tell the truth - not to the people they are pretending to help, not to the world as they beg for more and more money, and not even to themselves, except behind closed doors (as Whitley showed.)