Wednesday, January 28, 2009

After the UNRWA spokesman sent me his latest denial that Hamas diverts or steals aid, I sent him this:

Thanks, but my original question and all followups were asking not only about UNRWA aid but also about aid meant for other NGOs, such as Red Crescent. In at least one case UNRWA was the alleged recipient of the diverted aid, as reported in the Arabic News last February:

Hamas says it seized Jordan aid to keep it safe
Palestine-Jordan, Politics, 2/12/2008

Hamas government in Gaza acknowledged on Saturday that they had seized 16 trucks of aid supplies from Jordan to keep it safe from Palestine Authority.

Hamas government's Social Affairs Minister Ziad Zaza said that the government will hand it over to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees.

He said that Hamas wanted to prevent the aid supplies from falling into the hands of the Palestinian Red Crescent, which operates under the Palestine Authority led by Mahmud Abbas.

"This sort of aid never reached the Palestinian people in the past but was instead monopolized by a single party," al-Zaza said.

Zaza said that Hamas had secured Jordanian agreement to hand over the supplies to UNRWA.

Israel imposed a complete lockdown on the Gaza Strip on January 17 blocking even fuel, foods and medicines.

But in a population of 1.5 million that is largely dependent on foreign aid without any independent income, many families remain desperately short of basic goods.

Jordan said on Saturday the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas has confiscated a convoy of humanitarian aid sent to people living under an Israeli blockade in the Gaza Strip.

Minister of State for Information Affairs Nasser Joudeh said Hamas government on Thursday seized 16 trucks carrying emergency supplies into Gaza.

"We are surprised it should be confiscated and distributed in a manner based on political considerations...this only penalizes those who really deserve this aid," Joudeh said.
So while your statement makes clear that you deny the claims that aid trucks meant for UNRWA were diverted by Hamas, but I must ask you again: are you aware of any incidents where Hamas diverted, interfered with or stole aid meant for other NGOs, including the example cited here where Hamas admitted diverting aid to your agency?

In addition, a UN press release yesterday says that "The Under-Secretary-General also emphasized that Hamas must refrain from any interference with the movement or distribution of humanitarian goods" which indicates that at least John Holmes is aware of such incidents in the past. Do you know what he might be referring to?

Thanks so much,

The answer was terse:
I speak only for unrwa. C
Even though the example I cited had the aid going to UNRWA.

So I just emailed one more time:
I understand; can you confirm the February incident cited where the Jordanian aid was diverted to UNRWA? Did UNRWA accept a shipment that was meant for another NGO, or is Hamas not telling the truth when they said they would send it to UNRWA?

The reply:
Cannot confirm

I may sum up what I've learned soon...

My UNRWA correspondence adventures can be seen here.

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