Israel Resource Review 15th April, 2006


UNRWA 'will not shun' political leaders of Hamas

Gulf Times, Qatar

GAZA: The American head of the UN agency aiding Palestinian refugees said yesterday her agency will not scale back contacts with the new Palestinian government and will meet Hamas leaders as part of its aid work.

Senior UN officials said earlier this week that the UN had advised its aid agencies to avoid meeting Hamas political leaders and to limit contacts to technocrats in the new Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.

Karen Koning AbuZayd, commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, known as UNRWA, said she had not been advised to restrict her agency's contacts to avoid Hamas political leaders.

AbuZayd said her agency planned to meet this weekend the Palestinian minister of refugees. The minister, Atef Odwan, is a senior Hamas leader. An UNRWA spokesman said AbuZayd would personally attend the meeting with Odwan.

John Ging, head of UNRWA's Gaza operations, recently met Palestinian Interior Minister Saeed Seyam, Seyam's office said. Seyam is a senior Hamas leader who used to work as a teacher for UNRWA.

"It does not make sense to reduce contacts when you are asked to increase your activity," AbuZayd told a news briefing in Gaza. "We have no problem with our contacts as they have been in the past and they will continue in the future."

"We might have to have even more contacts than in the past," she added.

An UNRWA spokesman said the agency was not diverging from any advice it had received from UN headquarters "regarding what it needs to do as a humanitarian agency".

AbuZayd said donor countries which decided to cut aid to the Hamas-led government should be aware of the consequences of their decision on the humanitarian conditions in Gaza and the West Bank, where a total of 3.8mn Palestinians live. Agencies

Published: Thursday, 13 April, 2006, 11:40 a.m. Doha Time

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U.S. Support for UNRWA delineated

Relief Web document

Source: United States Department of State

Date: 10 April 2006

U.S. tops list of supporters for Palestinian relief agencyState Department fact sheet details U.S. contributions to UNRWA

The United States is the largest single country donor to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), providing food, shelter, health care and education to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and refugee facilities in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, according to a fact sheet released by the State Department April 10.

The fact sheet places the U.S. contribution to UNRWA during the current fiscal year at $84.15 million, with a proposed $51 million to be provided for UNRWA's emergency appeal.

Following is the text of the fact sheet:

(begin fact sheet)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman April 10, 2006


United States Assistance to UN Relief and Works Agency

The United States is the largest bilateral donor to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and second only to the European Community as contributor. FY06 USG contributions to date include $84.15 million to UNRWA's General Fund, which supports the agency's core educational, health, and social programs for refugees in UNRWA's five fields of operation (West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria), and another $51 million to its 2006 Emergency Appeal, which provides emergency food and health care to refugees in the West Bank and Gaza. Since the second intifada erupted in September 2000, the United States has contributed $186 million to UNRWA's emergency appeals. Over the past seven years the US average annual contribution to UNRWA's General Fund has been $86.45 million.

USG Voluntary Contributions to UNRWA

Fiscal Year Regular Budget Emergency Appeal
2003 $88.00 million $46 million
2004 $87.40 million $40 million
2005 $88.00 million $20 million
2006 $84.15 million $51 million (proposed)

U.S. assistance enables UNRWA to provide basic education, vocational training, primary health care, housing, relief services such as cash assistance and food for the neediest families, and microfinance and micro-credits to 4.3 million registered Palestinian refugees in UNRWA's five fields of operations, including over 1.6 million refugees in Gaza and the West Bank.

Half of the annual U.S. contribution to UNRWA's General Fund supports the agency's programs in the West Bank and Gaza, which are designed to promote economic self-sufficiency and prepare the refugee population for independent statehood in keeping with the President's vision of two democratic states Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security.

Our contribution to UNRWA's General Fund ensures that the agency can educate nearly 490,000 children who attend its 647 schools, 273 of which are in Gaza and the West Bank. U.S. assistance enables UNRWA to staff 125 primary health care facilities, including 54 health clinics and one hospital in Gaza and the West Bank, which handle nearly 9 million patient visits per annum.

The U.S. contribution to UNRWA's Emergency Appeal finances the provision of food parcels and mobile health clinic services to refugees in the West Bank and Gaza where unemployment has reached 30 percent, where 56 percent of the 3.8 million population lives below the World Bank poverty line of $2.10 per person per day, and where 40 percent of the population is "food insecure." This year's contribution will support UNRWA's creation of 38,787 temporary jobs.

(end fact sheet)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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UNRWA, European Commission Inaugurate Rehabilitated Shelters for Palestinian Refugees in Syria

WAFA, the official news agency of the PLO

[This rehabilitation effort, also funded in part by the USA and Canada, represents a model effort by UNRWA in the direction of rehabilitating Palestinian Arab refugees in decent conditions, rather than having them remain in their squalor under the specious premise and promise of the right of return to homes and villages that no longer exist]

HOMS (SYRIA), April 4, 2006 (WAFA) - Representative of the European Commission's Humanitarian Department, ECHO, arrived in Homs camp Tuesday to celebrate the completion of 135 shelters that have been rehabilitated as part of an over 1 million EU funded project to assist Palestine refugees in Syria.

"We are very happy to be here today and see firsthand the work you have done," said Mr Philippe Royan, Head, Regional Support Office, Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid. ECHO donated over 1 million in 2005 to UNRWA in Syria and will provide over 320,000 in additional funding for shelter rehabilitation for 67 families in Dera'a, Homs and Khan Dannoun camps.

The shelters targeted by UNRWA's rehabilitation programme are found to be in such poor condition that they are in desperate need of reconstruction. In order to be more cost effective and ensure community participation, many of the refugees do the work on their shelters on their own, with technical supervision from the refugee agency.

"The ECHO donation will translate into better living conditions to Palestine refugees living here", Patricia Mc Phillips, Acting Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria told the audience, which included the ECHO representative, Governor of Homs, Director- General of the General Authority for Palestine Arab Refugees (GAPAR) and other Syrian Government officials, and the Palestine refugee community.

"The project also helped to empower the refugees as many of them actively participated in the repair or finishing work of their shelter," Mc Phillips added.

On behalf of the beneficiaries, Ali Khaswan thanked ECHO for their generous contribution, which will be a substantial help in providing better living conditions for the people in Homs. "I have at least one multi-purpose room, a kitchen, and sanitary facilities that are well lit, ventilated and easily maintained in a hygienic condition," he said.

The project was also praised because of the co-operation between the donor community, UNRWA and the host country.

"This project reflects the co-operation between the Syrian Arab Republic, UNRWA and donor to provide better services to Palestine refugees and their camps pending a just solution to their plight, in accordance with United Nations resolutions," said Ali Mustafa, Director-General of GAPAR.

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Canada urged to push for changes to UNRWA

TORONTO - Canada has a unique opportunity to take the lead in pushing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) to exclude Palestinian terrorists from its payroll and to adopt the same criteria on refugees that the UN uses elsewhere, an Israeli researcher said last week.

David Bedein told a small workshop at the Shaarei Shomayim Congregation that Canada has leverage as chair of the Refugee Working Group, an independent multilateral assembly that supplements bilateral discussions on Palestinian refugees. Canada can push for the application of the principles used by the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the Palestinian situation, he said.

Since its creation in December 1949, UNRWA has had jurisdiction over Palestinian refugees, while UNHCR has a mandate to address the humanitarian needs of all other refugees around the world. UNRWA has departed from the principles of resettlement and normalization that UNHCR applies universally in all other refugee situations, said Bedein, founder of the Israel Resource News Agency.

Instead of "resettl[ing] refugees with dignity," UNRWA predicates its operations on a "right of return" for Palestinians to homes they once possessed in what is today Israel. Bedein argued that "right of return" does not exist as a principle in international law and that by advocating it for Palestinians, UNRWA has kept them in "a situation of limbo" since 1949.

As a result, UNRWA is guilty of "the ultimate crime of manipulating people's human dignity," he stated.

Bedein said UNRWA's staff includes many members of Hamas, the radical Islamic terrorist organization that recently formed the Palestinian Authority government. Canada, which has announced it will not fund the Hamas government, co-ordinates the 38 donor countries who provide funds for the UNRWA payroll, gives UNRWA $11 million and makes sure it remains solvent, Bedein stated.

In addition to UNWRA's employing numerous Hamas operatives, schools it administers in refugee camps use textbooks that fuel the conflict with Israel. They ignore the historic Jewish connection to the land and maps in the textbooks don't include Israel at all, he said.

Bedein said the concept of the right of return has been integrated into the "UNRWA curriculum" and is part of the pervasive atmosphere in the camps. UNRWA camps have celebrated Martyrs' Day, which honours suicide killers.

Bedein said donors providing funds to UNRWA should demand accountability of how those funds are used in UN schools.

Bedein's address was sponsored by the Media Action Group and the Canadian Coalition for Democracies.

This appeared in the April 12th, 2006 edition of the Canadian Jewish News

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