Due to the US government's holding back of $300 million to UNRWA, as of this week UNRWA has been forced to cut jobs in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem).And why would that be a bad thing?
UNRWA is a lifeline for 5 million Palestine refugees, providing food, healthcare, education, and jobs. In fact, 99% of UNRWA's doctors, teachers, and other staff, are refugees themselves.
Despite relentless efforts to attain new funding from other countries and donors, UNRWA still needs $217 million to sustain its work for 2018. As a result, UNRWA's 700 schools may not open this September.
Education is the single biggest budget item for UNRWA - over $400 million in 2017, triple the budget for health services.
It is largely unnecessary.
For Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, the regular public schooling should be sized to include so-called "refugees." Treating them as different from other Palestinians is absurd and discriminatory. It is abhorrent that somewhere in the PA government, people are saying they don't have to educate hundreds of thousands because they get their education for free from UNRWA. It is the PA's responsibility, not the world's.
Similarly, in Jordan, the vast majority of Palestinians are citizens. Why on earth should the government of Jordan treat them like anything other than citizens?
In Syria and Lebanon, while there are obviously problems, children born in those countries should be able to access local education. Yet even if we say that UNRWA should provide education for them, they are a small percentage of the total number of children being taught for free by UNRWA.
It is way past time that we should consider the "UNRWA education is a human right" idea to be discarded as the lie it is. The budget shortfall would magically disappear without that false idea.