Friday, February 09, 2007

UN presses Arab states for more help to the Palestinian `refugees'

For all the rhetoric coming out of the Arab world, the reality is that for the most part, they could care less about `Palestine' or the `refugees' except as a club to demonize Israel with.

The following story illustrates this quite well, as it relates how the UN is begging Arab states to contribute their fair share for aid to Palestinian refugees.

The `Palestinian refugees' are a unique case in history. All other refugees have been dealt with by the UN High Commission on Refugees...except for the Jews and Arabs displaced by the Arab jihad against Israel in 1948.

The 800,000 + Jewish refugees of that conflict were mostly resettled in Israel and never received a penny's worth of aid or compensation from the UN. The 400,000 Arab refugees, many of whom left by choice were deliberately not integrated in the surrounding Arab countries and instead were supported by their own special relief agency, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA).

This in itself partly explains why the problem of the Palestinian refugees remains unsolved almost 60 years later, by the way. The bureaucracy that gets its paycheck for administering UNRWA is in the same position as a contractor with one remodeling job to finish who knows he'll be unemployed if it ever gets done.

UNRWA's budget is mostly paid for by western donor nations, especially the US, while the Arab nations contribute virtually nothing compared to their wealth and (you would think) direct interest in the welfare of their so-called `Arab brothers'.

What's more, as time goes on, the Arab contribution to UNRWA is actually shrinking.

At a press conference held Wednesday in Manama, the capital of the oil rich Persian Gulf Sultanate Bahrain, , UNRWA representative Peter Ford issued a plea to Arab nations to increase their donations to the Palestinian refugees because UNRWA is facing "a financial crisis."

Over the past two decades, Ford noted, Arab contributions to UNRWA have been steadily decreasing. In the 1980s, he said, their donations amounted to 8% of the group's annual budget, whereas now, "Arab donors currently contribute less than three percent of UNRWA's overall spending."

UNRWA's operations are almost entirely funded from governments and the European Union. Western countries now provide more than 95% of the agency's finances

According to UNRWA's Web site, the largest pledge received from an Arab country in 2006 was $1.5 million from Kuwait, with Saudi Arabia promising just $1.2 million. By contrast, Sweden pledged more than $41 million, the UK $27 million, and Denmark over $12 million.

Other Arab states were even less generous, with oil-rich Bahrain offering $30,000 and Lebanon only $10,000.

The US is the biggest donor to UNRWA. More than $137 million of the group's budgeted expenditures of $462 million comes from the American taxpayer...not that it's brought any good will in the Arab world, or even among the Palestinians.

Do you smell a scam? So do I.

Perhaps if gullible westerners stop funding UNRWA, that refugee problem might just end up getting solved a lot quicker.

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