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UNRWA: A critical but impossible mission

CultureNews
on 22 Comments

Sunday March 24, 2019

In late March and early April 2019 I traveled to Jordan and the West Bank (Palestine) with two colleagues, Sonia Dettman and S. Komarovsky, first to attend the Lancet Palestine Health Alliance conference in Amman and then to explore and better understand the lives of refugees and the workings of UNRWA, with a focus on the status of refugee health.

Today begins with a ride through Amman (I have not remotely figured out the “circles” and hills and the travel brain fog seems denser today).  Perhaps because I was awakened by the muezzin at 4:30 am, not the melodious kind, but more like a blaring announcement at a mall.  In turns out the minaret is located right next to the Caravan Hotel, perhaps directly aimed at my eardrum.  Pity I do not pray, I certainly would have leaped out of bed. The Turkish coffee arrives with cardamon as we wait for our ride and I am moderately revived.

The sky is cloudy with the threat of cool rain when Careem, (Amman’s answer to Uber), pulls up and we are off to Nuzha Camp in North Amman. The car has that familiar smell of cigarette smoke and perfume. We fly past tall cream colored office buildings, six story apartment buildings, glitzy hotels, palms, and pointy Cypress trees. There is some construction and the usual assortment of Popeyes, Burger Kings, and the local Jo Petrol. The street garbage and litter is minimal and the traffic can only be described as positively civilized.

The neighborhoods tend towards poorer as we reach the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) facility, a sprawling white building with light blue trim, cheerful graffiti on the outside walls, and kids everywhere. But no guns/barbed wire/ bullet holes. (My previous experience with refugee camps has been in the West Bank and Gaza, FYI). This really makes a difference, needless to say. We meet with Julia McCahey, a cheerful Australian who works in the Health Department at UNRWA headquarters, other staff, and Dr. Akihiro Seita, the health director.  He speaks softly, quickly, but with tremendous authority and knowledge, punctuated by a quick, self-deprecating laugh that I suspect is the key to his equanimity.

We talk about the recent UNRWA Trumpian budget cuts of $500 million out of a total budget of $1.2 billion per year, the subsequent need to cut expenditures while protecting both the core supports and the Emergency Appeal (EA) for the West Bank and Gaza (especially food support for Gaza).  Among EA-supported activities, the highest priority was given to the food support to one million Palestine refugees in Gaza. In order to preserve such life-saving support to Palestinian refugees, UNRWA had to make a very difficult choice, downgrading other EA-supported activities like community mental health and mobile clinics even though they were important activities.  UNRWA was able to save $80-90 million and the Gulf States coughed up $200 million. Ultimately UNRWA came out even and no health center closed. This time.

But challenges obviously remain. Of note, the infrastructure in the refugee camps is primarily the responsibility of the Jordanian government; however, UNRWA is responsible for improving roads, pathways, drainage, as well as the garbage collection services which are all vulnerable to budget cuts.

Dr. Seita explains that it is hard to recruit doctors and hard to retain them, medicine is expensive. UNRWA usually orders medication 15 months in advance but last year could only afford a 12 month supply and there are now “stock outs”. So there has been more sympathy for the UN.  “There was no Plan B,” they had to make it work.

In Jordan, 2.2 million Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA, most have Jordanian nationality and are included in the social and economic life of the country. The refugees are the center of the work of UNRWA. But even the definition of refugee is complicated here.  There are Palestinian refugees from 1948, refugees from 1967 (who are treated differently from ’48 as they theoretically fled from the Jordanian controlled West Bank to the country of Jordan and are thus internally displaced persons).

There are Palestinians who were made refugees (for a second time) from Syria (17,000), Iraq, (numbers are hard to find). Of note, the Palestinians arrived in Iraq in 1948, 1967, (from Palestine) and 1991 (from Kuwait). With the 2003 Gulf War, several hundred fled to Jordan. I am told that those with money were welcomed but the reception was mostly hostile and the population desperate. In 2011, the government estimated that 450,000 – 500,000 Iraqis live in Jordan, although only 31,000 of these Iraqis are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Many were stranded in the no-man’s land between Iraq and Jordan or detained in the Al-Ruwaished Refugee Camp, administered by UNHCR along with Iranian Kurds, Somalis, and Sudanese. Under the Baathist regime, Palestinians were not registered with UNRWA, but had governmental services, health, education, and the right to work. In Jordan they appear to have nothing but their own determination, connections, and the kindness of churches and NGOs.

If you are not confused enough at this point, there are some 158,000+ registered refugees from Gaza who are officially called “ex-Gazans,” who fled from Gaza to Jordan in 1967. “According to UNRWA ‘ex-Gazans lack legal status in Jordan and are denied many of the basic services and rights afforded to pre-67 refugees, including access to state schools, government employment, and healthcare.’” Much like Lebanon, without a national ID they are unable to get work licenses in professions including law, engineering, medicine, nursing, pharmaceuticals and journalism. They face further legal and bureaucratic obstacles and cannot become taxi or bus drivers, cannot purchase land or buildings, and cannot set up businesses outside the camp. They are temporary residents with a passport which must be renewed every other year and is often prohibitively expensive. They cannot work in the public sector and can only work in the private sector with security approval which is hard to get. Essentially they are treated like foreign workers.  Most work in agriculture, crafts, or vocational jobs like carpentry and black smithing, without social security or health and safety requirements.  I would like to note that these restrictive policies violate Jordan’s international and regional obligations as well as international law pertaining to human, economic, social, cultural civil and political rights. Without security approval for a passport, they cannot even legally get married.

Whatever their designation, all these Palestinian refugee groups have a right to UNRWA services. In contrast to other countries, ’48 Palestinians in Jordan can get citizenship and medical and health care benefits. If an ex-Gazan tries to get health care beyond what UNRWA can provide, the cost often triples.

UNRWA is tasked with providing basic primary care and has contacts with Jordanian hospitals for tertiary care and specialty care and provides some reimbursement for that care. Primary care is defined as maternal and child care, dentistry, gynecology, HIV, and internal medicine. Most of the services are for women and children. The centers are open six days per week, eight hours per day and each doctor sees 100-150 patients per day. (Do the math.) The average visits lasts four minutes. UNRWA is working on decreasing “over use” around hypertension, diabetes, and cigarette use through better prevention and screening.

Since 2011, mental health and psycho-social services have been incorporated into primary care. As we question further, this seems to involve brief screenings and referrals to psychiatrists but the numbers of mental health workers in Jordan is relatively quite low (big problem). In 2011, for instance, there were 16 psychiatrists in the Ministry of Health and a total of 61 in all of Jordan

Impressively, each Palestinian presents a refugee card for an appointment, there is a comprehensive computerized medical record, and then care is provided. Of the 2.2 million Palestinian refugees, only the 30,000 most vulnerable live in the camps, the rest live nearby. UNRWA tries to employ Palestinian refugees and 90% of their staff is from Jordan. The care is organized around family health teams, where an entire family consistently sees an entire team of providers who presumably get to know the family closely.

We meet with Dr. Rashad who is responsible for north and south Amman and later we meet with the head educational officer.  We are told that of the 2.2 million Palestinians in 2018, UNRWA serves 800,000 clients.  There are 26 health centers located in Irbid, north and south Amman, and Zarqa. Since 1949 UNRWA health centers have provided preventative and curative care with three major projects:

  1. Mother: This includes preconceptual care, a minimum of four prenatal visits per pregnancy, postpartum care, and family planning. In Jordan this service cannot legally be provided to an unmarried woman. Depending on risk level, the pregnant woman is followed by a midwife, a family doctor, or an obstetrician. Over the past ten years birth rates have dropped significantly. Contraception is free.
  2. Child: From birth to five years, children have routine screening, vaccinations, monitoring of milestones, vitamins, and dental care. At five, the child enters school where the school health team provides follow up through 10th They check hearing, vision, vaccinations, and provide dental care. After 10th grade, the teenager is referred to the general clinic
  1. Noninfectious chronic disease (NCD): Patients receive diagnoses and treatment per guidelines, mostly for hypertension and diabetes, plus dental care. UNRWA serves 80,000 hypertension and diabetes patients in Jordan.

Dr. Rashad informs us that there have been reforms since 2010 including an electronic medical record, an appointment and cueing system, and the family health team approach. The team consists of two doctors, then nurses, and other professionals. Pharmacy, labs, dentistry are not on teams. Since 2017 they have started integrating mental health into the primary care with training from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health. There is a two week training for screening, and tools, and medications for anxiety and depression. The provider then can refer to the Ministry of Health. There are some psychosocial support groups with trained nurses. It is not clear to me if there is any long term “talk therapy” or if this is all mostly drug oriented.

Each mother and child has a comprehensive health handbook that includes all relevant health information that will soon be available on their smart phones, including appointment reminders.

UNRWA official shows brochures of service. Photo by S. Komarovsky

UNRWA provides educational programs for patients 40 and above, screening for diabetes and hypertension, (endemic in the region), and younger if there are risk factors like a positive family history or obesity.

Before e-health was rolled out, doctors saw 100-150 patients in 6 hours. That number has dropped to (the still way to high) 72-75, but with austerity it is up to 87. (Thank you Mr. Trump.) Nurses do some of the work, but the care is still very doctor oriented. Patients’ electronic files are not shared with the Ministry of Health as they use different data systems.

We learn that mental health and mental illness are very culturally stigmatized, but bringing it into the realm of primary care is providing an opportunity to approach this significant issue. There is no screening for sexually transmitted infections or HIV, but if the provider has suspicions, they may screen for gender-based violence. Addiction care comes under psychosocial care and is referred for treatment.

UNRWA buys drugs from the WHO essential medications list, but last year the pharmacies started having stock outs, for reasons related to international donors, testing standards, etc.

Next we meet the head officer from the Educational Department.  He is in charge of the North Amman area. UNRWA runs grades one to ten with the belief that all children have a right to a quality education There are 120,000 studying in Jordan, with 32,300 students in North Amman, 1,000 teachers, 39 schools with double shifts of teachers and students (7 am-12, 12pm – 4:30). Recently grades one to three have become coeducational, overcoming some cultural barriers.

UNRWA follows the curriculum of the Ministry of Education. Some schools are small rented spaces, others large buildings built to be schools with playgrounds. There are 50 students per class and one teacher. Special needs students are included, but not all schools are fully equipped to manage their needs. There is continued teacher training and quality assurance. The teachers do not receive year-long contracts but are paid a day rate. The students generally outperform students in the Ministry of Health schools which is impressive, but probably a low bar.

Post-graduation, depending on students’ scores, they go to vocational schools, secondary governmental schools, or (expensive) private schools. Good scores lead to university training which is highly competitive and expensive, but doesn’t always lead to employment. Rates of unemployment are high in Jordan.

We then tour the clinic and I am pleased with the orderly, clean appearance, the respect for privacy (we are not allowed to take pictures of patients).  We see exam rooms, the pharmacy, a dental clinic, a lab. There are a lot of engaging educational posters on the walls. The C-Section rate is reported around 66%, partly doctor preference, partly patient demand. There is not that feeling of chaos and depression I often feel in UNRWA clinics in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

UNRWA family services, Amman. Photo by S. Komarovsky

We then tour the Nuzha School compound and I am so impressed with Nadia Musa, the energetic creative principle, hobbling around on a broken foot in a cast. The school is for grades one to six with 700 students and 25 teachers, built in 1969. There are 49 to 51 kids per class, all of the teachers are from the camp. The teachers do a great deal of group work, focus on different learning styles, and do a lot with very little.  The classrooms are lively, decorated, the halls are filled with inspirational displays. “It’s not our differences that divide us. It’s our inability to recognize and accept the differences.” “Together we can reach the stars.” “Work to bee proud of…” then a swarm of bees, “homeland, identity, gender, family…” Nadia helped build a community garden out of recycled materials; there are music classes – kids share instruments, two traffic cops (military men in black) appear to talk to the students about road safety.  We see a learning center for children with disabilities and a theater with rows of chairs for student performances and community celebrations. One room has a puppet theater.

The Nuzha School, administered by UNRWA, in Amman. Photo by Alice Rothchild

Nuzha school, Amman. Photo by S. Komarovsky

When we peek into a few classrooms, children are sitting at high desks that are placed on steps, amphitheater style. There are no bullet holes in the windows, and the atmosphere is generally one of infectious enthusiasm. One girl asks: “Is America beautiful?”

UNRWA’s Nuzha School, Amman. Photo by S. Komarovsky

We return to talk with Dr. Seita before he dashes off to Istanbul. When comparing UNRWA schools, he says Nuzha was upgraded recently, is less busy and smaller than the Gaza Camp. He stresses that we tell the world that UNRWA does critical work in health care and education in particular. Food is no longer distributed in favor of cash. UNRWA is also responsible for water and sewer infrastructure.  But the funding has not kept up with the population growth. Patient expectations are higher, they do not understand why there are not specialists and sophisticated equipment, why ultrasound is only used in high risk pregnancies. In addition, host countries’ health sectors have been getting better as well. UNRWA’s task is basic primary care and the provision of medications on the WHO essential medication list.

In terms of mental health, he states that according to WHO, primary care can manage 70% of the issues when mental health, (ie. the WHO Mental Health GAP Action Program mhGAP), is appropriately and extensively introduced. (I wonder how this happens in the four minute visit). High risk for mental illness includes the Great March of Return, postpartum state, and out of control diabetes. These factors result in more screening, diagnosis and medications such as fluoxetine (Prosac). More serious problems go to the psychiatrists and group sessions.

Violence prevention is still very passive, though domestic violence is common. Plans involve de-escalation training methods in schools for body and mind, (such as deep breathing), and gender based violence teams. For rape victims, there are no emergency services; there is a tremendous amount of family shame, no privacy, and fear of retaliation. Victims sometimes go to governmental hospitals. If a woman is pregnant outside of marriage, she is reported to the Ministry of Health for her own protection and for the protection of the medical staff taking care of her. (Staff have been attacked and there are fears of honor killings).  A baby cannot be registered without an identified father.

Alice Rothchild
About Alice Rothchild

Alice Rothchild is a physician, author, and filmmaker who has focused her interest in human rights and social justice on the Israel/Palestine conflict since 1997. She practiced ob-gyn for almost 40 years. Until her retirement she served as Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harvard Medical School. She writes and lectures widely, is the author of Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience, On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the Eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion, and Condition Critical: Life and Death in Israel/Palestine. She directed a documentary film, Voices Across the Divide and is active in Jewish Voice for Peace. Follow her at @alicerothchild

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22 Responses

  1. just
    just on May 21, 2019, 6:24 pm

    Thank you for this… you write in such a captivating way. I often wonder about the laws that seem to be ignored entirely by the Occupiers:

    “Occupation and international humanitarian law: questions and answers”

    Here’s one of the ones that I wonder about:

    “To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the occupying power must ensure sufficient hygiene and public health standards, as well as the provision of food and medical care to the population under occupation.”

    https://www.icrc.org/en/doc/resources/documents/misc/634kfc.htm

    Actually, Israel is in violation of so many Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian laws that it is breathtaking.

    I’ll never forget this from Israel’s 2014 massacre in Gaza (one of many terrible memories that I will not forget) :

    “UN spokesman Chris Gunness breaks down during interview on Gaza – video”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/jul/31/un-spokesman-chris-gunness-breaks-down-during-aljazeera-interview-video

    Thanks again for taking me on your tour.

  2. mondonut
    mondonut on May 21, 2019, 8:08 pm

    In Jordan, 2.2 million Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA, most have Jordanian nationality …

    The UNRWA has no business or need to provide services to Jordanians living in Jordan.

    • bcg
      bcg on May 21, 2019, 10:41 pm

      The U.S. has no business and certainly no need of providing lavish monetary awards to Israelis living in Israel.

      • mondonut
        mondonut on May 22, 2019, 9:23 am

        @bcg , The U.S. has no business and certainly no need…

        The U.S. is entitled to make their own foreign assistance decisions. The UNRWA operates under a mandate that it routinely violates.

    • eljay
      eljay on May 22, 2019, 7:26 am

      || mon donut: … The UNRWA has no business or need to provide services to Jordanians living in Jordan. ||

      Right, just as Israel has no business or need to provide services to non-Israelis living in homelands all over the world.

      Because just as Jordanian citizens aren’t Palestinian refugees, citizens of homelands all over the world aren’t Israelis or “exiles” or “ancient Israelites”.

      Nicely done, donut. Thanks for that.

      • mondonut
        mondonut on May 22, 2019, 9:20 am

        @eljay, Right, just as Israel has no business or need…

        Apparently you believe a UN Agency with a specific mandate, that violates that mandate, is somehow equivalent to a sovereign nation making their own decisions.

      • eljay
        eljay on May 22, 2019, 10:53 am

        || mon donut: … Apparently you believe a UN Agency with a specific mandate, that violates that mandate, is somehow equivalent to a sovereign nation making their own decisions. ||

        Incorrect, donut. I believe that just as Jordan should be responsible for all of its Jordanian citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally, so should Israel be responsible for all of its Israeli citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally.

      • mondonut
        mondonut on May 22, 2019, 1:11 pm

        @eljay I believe that just as Jordan should be responsible for all of its Jordanian citizens

        As you are studiously avoiding the actual subject (UNRWA), I will just a wild guess from your comment and assume you agree the UNRWA has no need to tend to the one million+ fake Palestinian refugees in Jordan

      • eljay
        eljay on May 22, 2019, 1:58 pm

        || mon donut: … As you are studiously avoiding the actual subject (UNRWA), I will just a wild guess from your comment and assume you agree the UNRWA has no need to tend to the one million+ fake Palestinian refugees in Jordan ||

        No wild guess is required, donut, because I didn’t avoid the subject – I addressed it clearly:
        – citizens of Jordan are not refugees from Palestine;
        – UNRWA has no business providing services to Jordanian citizens of Jordan; and
        – Jordan should be responsible for all of its Jordanian citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally.

        You, on the other hand, are getting dizzy from dancing around the fact that:
        – citizens of homelands all over the world are not Israelis, “exiles” or “ancient Israelites”;
        – Israel has no business providing services to non-Israelis living in homelands all over the world; and
        – Israel should Israel be responsible for all of its Israeli citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally.

        Keep dancing, donut. Keep dancing.

      • mondonut
        mondonut on May 22, 2019, 8:20 pm

        @eljay , citizens of Jordan are not refugees from Palestine;

        At least you managed to stay on subject long enough to agree the UNRWA is either massively corrupt or incredibly mismanaged. Either way, kudos.

        As for your off topic statements:

        – Israel decides who is (or not) Israeli. And if anyone chooses to self identify as an exile or ancient whatever, I could not care less. Just as I do not care that thousands of migrants and recent arrivals to Mandate Palestine chose to self identify as Palestinians having 15,000 year old roots between the river and the sea.

        – Israel, as a sovereign state, defines their own foreign assistance. If they want to provide to non-Israelis living in homelands all over the world, they are free to do so.

        – Israel has no refugees, they handled that long ago. Your bizarre assertion that what the world thinks of as Palestinian refugees are actually (unbeknownst to themselves) Israeli refugees is just that, bizarre.

      • eljay
        eljay on May 23, 2019, 7:44 am

        || mon donut: … At least you managed to stay on subject … ||

        Wish I could say the same about you.

        || … Israel decides who is (or not) Israeli. … ||

        Obviously. And Zionistically.

        || … Israel, as a sovereign state, defines their own foreign assistance. … ||

        Obviously. And Zionistically.

        || … Israel has no refugees, they handled that long ago. … ||

        That should make honouring RoR pretty straightforward. But for some reason Israel continues to refuse to honour it. Bizarre.

        || … Your bizarre assertion that what the world thinks of as Palestinian refugees are actually (unbeknownst to themselves) Israeli refugees is just that, bizarre. ||

        It seems bizarre to me to suggest that refugees from a region defined by a country – in this case, Partition-borders Israel – aren’t refugees from that country. Bizarre.

    • just
      just on May 25, 2019, 4:00 pm

      Did you even read the article by Dr. Rothchild??? If you did, you certainly did not comprehend it. No surprise there. From the doctor’s article:

      “If you are not confused enough at this point, there are some 158,000+ registered refugees from Gaza who are officially called “ex-Gazans,” who fled from Gaza to Jordan in 1967. “According to UNRWA ‘ex-Gazans lack legal status in Jordan and are denied many of the basic services and rights afforded to pre-67 refugees, including access to state schools, government employment, and healthcare.’” Much like Lebanon, without a national ID they are unable to get work licenses in professions including law, engineering, medicine, nursing, pharmaceuticals and journalism. They face further legal and bureaucratic obstacles and cannot become taxi or bus drivers, cannot purchase land or buildings, and cannot set up businesses outside the camp. They are temporary residents with a passport which must be renewed every other year and is often prohibitively expensive. They cannot work in the public sector and can only work in the private sector with security approval which is hard to get. Essentially they are treated like foreign workers. Most work in agriculture, crafts, or vocational jobs like carpentry and black smithing, without social security or health and safety requirements. I would like to note that these restrictive policies violate Jordan’s international and regional obligations as well as international law pertaining to human, economic, social, cultural civil and political rights. Without security approval for a passport, they cannot even legally get married.

      Whatever their designation, all these Palestinian refugee groups have a right to UNRWA services. In contrast to other countries, ’48 Palestinians in Jordan can get citizenship and medical and health care benefits. If an ex-Gazan tries to get health care beyond what UNRWA can provide, the cost often triples.”

      Can you provide evidence for your claim below that: “It is already well known that the UNRWA is a failed and corrupt organization that should have been disbanded long ago. What else is new?” Also tell me why Israel provides nothing to any Palestinian as required by international law? Well, they do steal Palestinian monies and lives and land and so on, ad nauseam… they are experts @ that.

      • mondonut
        mondonut on May 25, 2019, 6:48 pm

        @just Can you provide evidence for your claim below …

        Sure, just read the story above, the majority of “Palestinians” it services in Jordan are actually Jordanians living in Jordan. More than one million Jordanians living in Jordan receive service from the UNRWA.

        Jordanians living in Jordan are not refugees.

  3. Misterioso
    Misterioso on May 22, 2019, 10:54 am

    @mondonut

    A reminder.
    “Israel,” – 71 years as a beggar state:

    “Congressional Research Service, U.S. Foreign aid to Israel, Jeremy M. Sharpe, Specialist in Middle East Affairs, April 10, 2018.”

    “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion (current, or non inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. At a signing ceremony at the State Department on September 14, 2016, representatives of the U.S. and Israeli governments signed a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid covering FY2019 to FY2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledges to provide $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants plus $5 billion in missile defense appropriations) to Israel. This MOU replaces a previous $30 billion 10-year agreement, which runs through FY2018.”

    • mondonut
      mondonut on May 22, 2019, 1:13 pm

      @Misterioso, A reminder.

      And what does this reminder have to do with the UNRWA support of non-refugee Jordanian citizens?

      • Misterioso
        Misterioso on May 26, 2019, 6:53 pm

        @mondonut

        “And what does this reminder have to do with the UNRWA support of non-refugee Jordanian citizens?”

        Everything. Because Palestinians in Jordan still have refugee status!! Why don’t you know this?

        The Arab Weekly, August 19/18:
        “Palestinian refugees in Jordan stand to lose from Kushner’s Middle East plan
        if Jordan assents to Kushner’s request and removes the refugee status of Palestinians, it could mean the end of UNRWA.”

        “US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, reportedly tried to convince Jordan that it should remove the refugee status of the 2 million Palestinians living in the Arab country.

        “A report in Foreign Policy magazine stated that Kushner raised the issue in June during his visit to Jordan. Removing the Palestinians’ refugee status appears to be part of a greater plan to end the existence of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).”

        While Trump attempts to deprive Palestinians in Jordan (who were violently dispossessed and expelled from their ancestral homeland by Zionist Jews of foreign origin) of their refugee status and hence, access to UNWRA aid, like his predecessors, he pumps $billions into beggar state, illegal/brutal occupier, ethnic cleanser “Israel’s” coffers. “Israel” has been taking American taxpayers to the cleaners for 71 years!!

        Get educated!!!

  4. Elizabeth Block
    Elizabeth Block on May 22, 2019, 2:25 pm

    I was talking with a friend who is from Egypt, speaks Arabic, and follows news from the Middle East in a way that I cannot. He says the Americans are pressuring the various Arab states to take Palestinians, and they are giving into pressure, except for Jordan.
    I said they may be willing to take them, but will the Palestinians be willing to leave? And will they take all of them? There are millions!
    And what would the Israelis do without the Palestinians? They’ll turn on each other. They are accustomed to having an enemy, preferably a weak one, to hate. (Whom does that remind you of?)

  5. just
    just on May 23, 2019, 2:40 pm

    Some reading material for the ‘mondonut’:

    “UN Agency Aiding Palestinians Rejects U.S. Bid to Strip It of Mandate …

    The head of the United Nations agency that has supported Palestinian refugees for seven decades hit back on Thursday at a U.S. proposal to have host countries take over the services it provides across the Middle East.

    The suggestion, from U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt at a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, that UNRWA should be effectively dismantled was the latest U.S. attack on an agency that began operations in 1950.

    Formerly UNRWA’s largest donor, the United States halted its funding to the agency in 2018, deeming its fiscal practices “irredeemably flawed” and stoking tensions between the Palestinians and U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

    “We need to engage with host governments to start a conversation about planning the transition of UNRWA services to host governments, or to other international or local non-governmental organizations, as appropriate,” Greenblatt said after the Security Council was briefed by UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl.

    Asked at a Gaza news conference on Thursday about Greenblatt’s remarks, Krahenbuhl said UNRWA’s mandate was a matter for the entire U.N. General Assembly to consider, not by “one or two individual member states”.

    “Therefore, Palestinian refugees should remember that the mandate is protected by the General Assembly, and of course we will engage with member states to ensure what we hope is a safe renewal of that mandate,” Krahenbuhl said.

    UNRWA’s mission is due to come up for renewal later this year in the General Assembly, where support for the agency has been traditionally strong and the United States would likely face an uphill battle to change or cancel its mission.

    Greenblatt said UNRWA was “currently running on fumes, surviving on a surge in foreign donations in 2018”, and it was time for the international community to address the needs of Palestinians in refugee camps in a sustainable way.

    More than half of the 2 million Palestinians in the Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which is under Israeli blockade, receive food aid from UNRWA.

    “UNRWA’s business model, which is inherently tied to an endlessly and exponentially expanding community of beneficiaries, is in permanent crisis mode,” Greenblatt said.

    Since Trump assumed office in 2017, Palestinians have grown concerned that he intends to bring about UNRWA’s demise.

    U.S. ally Israel says the work of UNRWA – short for United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – only perpetuates the plight of Palestinians.

    “Year after year, Palestinians in refugee camps were not given the opportunity to build any future; they were misled and used as political pawns and commodities instead of treated as human beings,” Greenblatt told the Security Council.

    UNRWA says it provides services to about 5 million registered Palestinian refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza, and that it safeguards and advances their rights under international law.

    Most are descendants of about 700,000 Palestinians who were driven out of their homes or fled fighting in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation and claim a right of return to the lands they left.

    Israel has ruled out such an influx, fearing the country would lose its Jewish majority. Palestinian leaders reject settling refugees in host countries, saying their presence there should be considered temporary. Palestinians in host countries complain of restrictions on jobs and benefits there. ”

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/un-agency-aiding-palestinians-rejects-u-s-bid-to-strip-it-of-mandate-1.7279318

    • mondonut
      mondonut on May 23, 2019, 3:56 pm

      just , Some reading material for the ‘mondonut’:

      What is wholesale copying of someone else’s work (read up on fair use) supposed to mean? It is already well known that the UNRWA is a failed and corrupt organization that should have been disbanded long ago. What else is new?

      But for the many, many UN members that think otherwise – they just need to start writing checks. UNRWA funding could be easily solved if every vote in the General Assembly to continue it required a $5 million ante.

      • Misterioso
        Misterioso on May 26, 2019, 6:57 pm

        @mondonut

        In fact, it is the Zionist U.S. taxpayer dependent entity know as “Israel” that is “failed and corrupt.”

    • gamal
      gamal on May 23, 2019, 4:23 pm

      “Year after year, Palestinians in refugee camps were not given the opportunity to build any future; they were misled and used as political pawns and commodities instead of treated as human beings,” Greenblatt told the Security Council”

      Meanwhile starting quietly but getting more insistent chants of “Chagos, Chagos” can be heard wafting through the halls.

      • just
        just on May 24, 2019, 5:39 pm

        Yes, Greenblatt, that is indeed how Israel has treated the Palestinians for decades now~ in and out of refugee camps. Here’s some more tragedy, courtesy of the Lying Occupiers;

        “A 5-year-old Gaza Girl, Dying All Alone

        Aisha al-Loulou needed surgery to remove a brain tumor, and chemotherapy, in East Jerusalem. Israel wouldn’t allow her parents to go with her…

        … The Gaza Strip is under siege. Muna’s face is veiled, only her bespectacled eyes are visible through the black covering. Wissam is wearing a light-colored galabiya. Our conversation is taking place via Skype: For the past 13 years Israeli authorities have prevented Israeli journalists from entering Gaza, other than those embedded with Israel Defense Forces units during invasions of the Strip.

        To resume Aisha’s story: She was hospitalized for five days in Shifa’s neurosurgical department. Her parents were told that she needed to be moved urgently to Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem for surgery to remove the tumor and then to receive chemotherapy that is not available in the Gaza Strip. Now it was necessary to deal with the bureaucracy of the Israeli occupation in order get Aisha to Jerusalem as quickly as possible. It was clear that her life was in danger. Her parents applied to the Ministry for Civil Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, which works with the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Administration. There, they were told that it would take five days to organize the authorization documents, two on the Palestinian side and three more days to get a reply from the Israeli side. …

        … At Makassed Hospital, surgery was scheduled for Aisha for April 16. Time was of the essence, her life dangled by a thread. No entry permit arrived from Israel: There was no way to send the child to East Jerusalem on the appointed day. Her hospitalization was rescheduled for April 17. Meanwhile the Ministry for Civil Affairs suggested to Wissam that he submit names of other people, strangers, not members of the family – maybe the security check would go more quickly for them. Desperate, the family asked people who happened to be at Shifa Hospital whether they would be prepared to escort their daughter to East Jerusalem for brain surgery and chemotherapy.

        Six names of volunteers the family didn’t know were submitted to the Palestinian ministry, which passed them on to Israel. After a quick check, the apparatus of the Israeli occupation chose the name of Halima al-Adess, 55, a resident of Shati refugee camp, who was an acquaintance of one of Aisha’s aunts. Neither Aisha nor her parents knew the woman who would be spending the coming fateful weeks with their little daughter, far, far away. …

        … The parents’ faces are grim, at times they stare at the floor. Aisha’s mother is silent, her father tells the story. He recalls how a representative of an Israeli human rights NGO called them to ask for details and a copy of their IDs in an attempt to help. An Israeli relative who lives in Lod submitted a request to the Peres Center for Peace, in an effort to obtain an entry permit for one of the parents. The Palestinian Al Mezan Center for Human Rights also submitted a request for one of the parents to be allowed into Israel. Nothing came of any of those efforts. The days passed without a reply from the Israeli side. Aisha was alone with a woman she didn’t know.

        The spokesperson for the Unit for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories told Haaretz this week: “Contrary to various reports, Israel permitted the entry of the girl Aisha a-Loulou for medical treatment in an East Jerusalem hospital, after her parents signed a declaration stating that they did not wish to go with her from the Gaza Strip and requested that she go with a friend of the family, who entered with her and stayed with her during the treatments. We wish to emphasize, in addition, that contrary to reports, Aisha a-Loulou passed away in the Gaza Strip, after returning to her home two weeks ago, at the conclusion of an operation that, unfortunately, was unsuccessful, at Makassed Hospital.

        “We wish to emphasize that, in accordance with its policy, the Coordination and Liaison Administration requires parental escort for medical treatment of minors, based on the understanding that a child needs his parents at such moments. In this case, too, in accordance with CLA procedure, Aisha’s parents were required to transmit a document of declaration, according to which they were not interested in accompanying their daughter during the treatments for reasons of their own – and they requested that someone else escort her on their behalf.”

        Wissam, Aisha’s father, told us this week: “The IDF killed my daughter. Israel killed her.” …

        … The next day they were compelled to return her to Rantisi. The physicians said there was no more that could be done. She spent seven days at the hospital, without the staff doing anything. Last Wednesday, May 15, at 6 A.M., the hospital phoned her parents to come immediately. They stayed with her the whole day, watching their daughter die. At 6 that evening, Aisha passed away, her parents by her side – at last.”

        https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-a-5-year-old-gaza-girl-dying-all-alone-1.7279268

        (just so you know, there’s a video and some very heartbreaking photos and more of Gideon’s account @ the link. The comments are different than most @ Haaretz, too. Nary a one defending the actions of Israel… or blaming Palestinians.)

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