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August 19, 2015 12:57 pm

The Best Way to Fix UNRWA’s Budget Crisis

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Palestinian boys raise their hands in a school run by the UNRWA. Photo: UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan.

Palestinian boys raise their hands in a school run by  UNRWA. Photo: UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan.

Out of UNRWA’s $100 million deficit that threatens to delay the school year, $28 million comes from Jordan.

That covers the costs for 120,000 students in 175 schools taught by 5,500 teachers throughout Jordan for four months.

This means that the annual budget for educating Jordan’s students of Palestinian origin is $70 million.

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Nearly every one of these students is already a Jordanian citizen.

Jordan says that it cannot afford to educate these students, relying instead on UNRWA, even though this means that the kingdom has two separate school systems with two separate bureaucracies, two separate transportation systems, two separate administrations.

So why not just redirect the money earmarked for UNRWA to Jordanian schools directly?

Western nations should be happy to get rid of Jordanian apartheid where Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens. They can and should be mainstreamed into Jordanian society, something that should have happened decades ago.

By no definition can they be considered “refugees.” So why continue to treat them that way?

A five or seven year program to fund Jordan’s existing education (and medical) system to accommodate Palestinians, and phase out the current apartheid system for to million so-called “refugees,” is something that everyone who cares about equal rights should support.

And Canada could be in the forefront to kickstart such a program.

In 2007, Canada gave $32 million to UNRWA. As it soon realized that UNRWA is not aligned with Canadian values, the nation dropped its support to zero, redirecting some of it to various specific PA projects.

UNRWA is at a crossroads. It cannot continue to fund fund its ever-growing “refugee” population without a plan to reduce the number of people on its rolls, as it was originally intended to do. There is no rational reason for Jordanian citizens who happen to have Palestinian ancestry to be considered “refugees.” The only reason UNRWA exists in Jordan is as a crutch to help Jordan’s budget (besides the political reason of inflating the number of “refugees” to pressure Israel forever.)

It is past time to force UNRWA to change its working definition of “refugee” to be more aligned with that of the UNHCR and to phase out aid to the fake “refugees’ who are citizens of Jordan. This budget crisis gives the world a chance to do exactly that, by using limited aid funds smartly and at the same time to eliminate two million “refugees.”

The same can be done in the West Bank and Gaza, two other places that Palestinians cannot possibly be called “refugees” by any sane definition. Since most countries recognize “Palestine” as a state, pay the PA to take responsibility for their own people – with a deadline.

The money saved can hep the stateless Arabs of Palestinian origin wasting away in Lebanon and Syria, where UNRWA aid is most urgently needed until a more permanent solution is found.

Enlightened nations like Canada and Australia and the U.S. would also be happy to replace the current UNRWA dinosaur with a real plan to reduce its budget while directing funds at those who need them most.

Now is the chance to accomplish something useful before UNRWA implodes and its current welfare recipients are left with nothing but anger.

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  • What the heck is UNRWA?

  • nelson marans

    UNRWA has been for decades a farce, as far as the Palestinian Arabs are concerned, acting as a perpetual enabler of a people unwilling to earn a living. Certainly the organization for the most part should be disbanded in light of more credible relief organizations that are not propaganda tools of Hamas and Hezbollah.

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