Er is al vaker gewezen op de verantwoordelijkheid van de UNRWA zelf in het laten voortbestaan van het Palestijnse vluchtelingenprobleem, maar deze informatie wordt in de mainstream media volkomen geweerd. Niet alleen in NRC Handelsblad, ook in Engelse kranten spuit ex-UNRWA chef Karen Abuzayd haar gal over Israel en wordt dit klakkeloos overgenomen. Gelukkig hadden de Independent en de Daily Telegraph wel aandacht voor de andere kant van de zaak. Daar kan de NRC een voorbeeld aan nemen. Neem bijvoorbeeld het volgende:
UNRWA: Perpetuating the Misery
Isn't it time for UNRWA's chief to do some soul searching and look beyond blaming
Writing in The Guardian, Karen AbuZayd, the outgoing commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) calls to address the Palestininan refugee question. While apportioning responsibility to
Make no mistake, not a single conflict of contemporary times has been resolved, no durable peace achieved, unless and until the voices of the victims of those conflicts were heard, their losses acknowledged and redress found to injustices they experience. The precedents of recent peacemaking efforts and the methodology of contemporary conflict resolution affirm that giving high priority to resolving dispossession and the plight of refugees is a necessity, an international obligation and a humanitarian imperative.
While UNRWA may be concerned solely with the plight of Palestinians refugees (more on this definition later), how can AbuZayd make the above statement without reference to the Jewish refugees who were forced to flee from their homes in Arab countries after the creation of the State of Israel? As Avi Beker writes:
Although they exceed the numbers of the Palestinian refugees, the Jews who fled are a forgotten case. Whereas the former are at the very heart of the peace process with a huge UN bureaucratic machinery dedicated to keeping them in the camps, the nine hundred thousand Jews who were forced out of Arab countries have not been refugees for many years. Most of them, about 650,000, went to
Referring to an April 2008 US House of Representatives resolution on Jewish refugees, Lyn Julius argues that it:
is about recognition, not restitution, although Jewish losses have been quantified at twice Palestinian losses. Such resolutions could lead to a peace settlement by recognising that there were victims on both sides. Thus justice for Jews is not just a moral imperative, but the key to reconciliation.
UNRWA: PERPETUATING THE REFUGEE PROBLEM
While AbuZayd appears to place responsibility for the Palestinian refugee problem on
Unlike the millions of refugees around the world who are the concern of the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only the Palestinians have their own dedicated UN agency. While other refugees (including Jewish refugees from Arab lands) are successfully integrated and absorbed into other countries, why do Palestinian refugees still exist over 60 years after
UNRWA's definition of the refugees to whom it devotes its time and attention are well beyond the original 900,000 Palestinian refugees who were identified in 1950. Today the number served is over 4.5 million. Why? Because UNRWA has defined its mission to serve the descendents of the original 900,000. This means grandchildren or even great-grandchildren of the original Palestinian refugees are the focus of UNRWA's attention — in refugee camps located in
UNRWA, it could also be argued, is a negative influence on prospects for peace. There have been reports of Hamas members and potential terrorists being on the UNRWA payroll along with the use of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel textbooks in UNRWA-sponsored schools.
THE ROLE OF THE ARAB STATES
In a Dec.7, 2009 article, the Daily Telegraph looks at the plight of Palestinian refugees living in squalid conditions in Lebanon and perhaps hits the nail on the head:
"How could it be possible that for the past 61 years Palestinians are trapped in these camps," complained Mahmoud al-Jomaa, who chairs an organisation that provides health programmes for children.
What hurts the most for the refugees is the feeling that they have been forgotten by the world - and particularly by other Arabs.
"Seven million Jews worry about the fate of Gilad Shalit, while 300 million Arabs couldn't care less what happens to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians,
In fact, the bulk of UNRWA's funding comes from western donors with only a small proportion from the Arab states:
According to an Oct. 2009 feature in The Independent:
UNRWA's grant of refugee status to the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original Palestinian refugees according to the principle of patrilineal descent, with no limit on the generations that can obtain refugee status, has made it easy for host countries to flout their obligations under international law. According to Article 34 of the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, "The Contracting States shall as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and naturalisation of refugees," and must "make every effort to expedite naturalisation proceedings" – the opposite of what happened to the Palestinians in every Arab country in which they settled, save
Indeed, the article states:
In 2001, Palestinians in
In addition, the Palestinian Authority has not been at the forefront in helping relocate the residents of refugee camps into permanent housing facilities.
Arabs have to share responsibility for the refugee issues since they rejected the 1947 partition plan and and launched a war of destruction. Had they, like
We congratulate the Daily Telegraph and Independent for going beyond the standard reporting on Palestinian refugees. Perhaps it is time for Karen AbuZayd to take a more sophisticated examination (including some self-examination) regarding the Palestinian refugee problem. Simply blaming
Please take one or two of the points above and send an e-mail to The Guardian's letters page - letters