By Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute—
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) claims that it is on the “frontlines of responding to COVID-19,” and its officials are appealing for donations to help Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. According to an UNRWA statement from April 5:
“UNRWA is doing its part to flatten the curve and has mobilized a number of prevention and control measures across its field of operations, including the issuing of hygiene products and protection gear to UNRWA staff, the distribution of educational pamphlets to refugees, the regular sterilization of camps and UNRWA facilities, and the support of students at home through our Education in Emergencies programme. UNRWA is committed to providing emergency relief and maintaining essential services like food assistance, education, and primary health care for the millions of Palestine refugees that depend on us, but in order to do so, we need your help.”
While UNRWA is boasting of its services to Palestinian refugees and asking for donations, the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are accusing the UN agency of doing nothing to help them face the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
Those considering donating to UNRWA ought first to listen to the voices of the leaders of the Palestinians in Lebanon who are accusing the UN agency of negligence and failing to fulfill its promises to help the Palestinians battle the pandemic.
The Palestinians’ complaints against UNRWA are embarrassing for the agency’s administration and expose its attempt to mislead donors into believing that UNRWA is making a herculean effort to assist the refugees in Lebanon.
The Palestinian accusations come in the aftermath of a report published last year, detailing the abuses of authority among the agency’s senior management team.
The 10-page document, prepared by the agency’s ethics office, cites “credible and corroborated reports” that members of an “inner circle” at the top of UNRWA have engaged in abuses of authority and nepotism for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives.
The report concludes that the senior UNRWA officials’ conduct presents “an enormous risk to the reputation of the UN” and that “their immediate removal should be carefully considered.”
It appears, however, that one year after the report was leaked, UNRWA has still not drawn important conclusions from the allegations that its senior officials have engaged in misconduct and nepotism. At least, that is what the Palestinians in Lebanon are saying.
A group called the Leadership of the Alliance of Palestinian Factions in Lebanon has accused UNRWA of “procrastination and negligence” in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and threatened to step up protests in the coming days if the agency does not “assume its responsibilities towards the Palestinians.”
The group condemned UNRWA’s “failure” to respond to Palestinian appeals for urgent help. “We initiated a meeting with the UNRWA management in Lebanon and demanded that the agency accelerate necessary aid to the Palestinian refugees,” the group said.
“The UNRWA administration promised to contact potential donors for financial aid and grants, but nothing has happened. UNRWA’s management has shown that it deliberately failed to fulfill its promises of securing funds for aid, and even exceeded the time limit they requested.”
The group added that UNRWA’s failure is a “clear indication of its indifference and contempt towards the Palestinian refugees suffering from poverty, hunger, and disease, particularly since the UNRWA administration has not yet seriously dealt with the coronavirus pandemic.” Continue Reading….