Robert Piper, UN Assistant Secretary General Development & Humanitarian Coordinator for Palestine, tweeted this graphic today with the (corrected) caption "29.5% of West Bank refugees still live in camps."
The question that the UN leaves unasked is - why do these camps still exist some 68 years after the last refugees were created? (There were essentially no refugees by any definition created by the Six Day War.)
This graphic claims that life in the UN-administered camps is dangerous due to IDF operations. Of course, it doesn't bother to say that the reason that many operations occur in these camps is because they are hotbeds of terrorism.
70% of the so-called "refugees" (actually, descendants of refugees) live outside the camps - meaning that there is no legal impediment to integrating the "refugees" with the rest of Palestinian society.
The Palestinian Authority, recognized by the UN as the State of Palestine, can build as many houses as needed for these people in Areas A and B. And they have had this autonomy for nearly 20 years now.
Where are the infographics showing how successful the PA, with international aid, has been in dismantling these completely unnecessary and dangerous camps and mainstreaming the residents to become normal citizens?
They don't exist, because no such programs exist.
The PA doesn't want to dismantle the camps because they want to point to overcrowded, violence-filled ghettos as evidence of how Palestinians are still suffering from Israeli actions in 1948.
Jordan was happy to keep these camps around from 1948-1967 because the hundreds of million of dollars used to maintain the camps was money that Jordan didn't have to spend - even though the Palestinians were full Jordanian citizens.
The UN, which puts out reams of reports about how awful things are for Palestinians, has no interest in a single program to take vulnerable people out of these camps.
The graphic comes from a 33-page UN document that describes how many problems Palestinians have and all of the programs the UN has to help them. Yet these is not one program to mainstream camp residents into normal houses and apartments, going to normal non-UN schools and becoming self-sustaining members of society.
There is no reason that these camps should exist today. But the UN is complicit in keeping a second-class society of Palestinians in misery and insecurity, all while promising them a fairy tale that one day they will "return" and go back to their ancestors' houses that no longer (and in some cases never did) exist.
If the UN recognizes a "state of Palestine," isn't it time for the UN to help that entity to take responsibilities for its own citizens as every other nation does?
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