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July 27, 2018 11:20 am

UNRWA Complains About Funding While Training Children to Wage War

avatar by David Bedein

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

Over the past month, reports have circulated that members of the US House of Representatives’ Middle East Subcommittee have raised concerns that humanitarian aid is not reaching the Palestinian population, especially in Gaza.

In response, the Center for Near East Policy Research (CFNEPR) contacted 44 donor nations ​that contribute humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population in Gaza through UNRWA in order to determine if any had cut back on their donations. With the exception of the US, which has cut back on 20% of its donations, every single donor nation responded emphatically that they are not cutting one penny in aid to UNRWA.

Therefore, UNRWA currently has $1.2 billion to spend on the people supposed to benefit from its health, education, and welfare programs in Gaza, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.

Despite this, UNRWA ​proclaims ​to the media ​that it is bereft of resources to provide basic services. The organization’s media adviser Adnan Abu Hasna declared that UNRWA lacks basic food products and the people of Gaza “have nothing to lose,” adding “we don’t know yet whether school will open in the coming year. … We’re talking about 300,000 students who need to go to school.”

So why does UNRWA claim that it does not have funds for humanitarian needs?

The answer may lie with Hamas, the terror group that has controlled the UNRWA workers and teachers associations in Gaza since 1999.

On July 14, Hamas launched a massive ​military ​training program for ​​UNRWA students. This armed training placed UNRWA pupils in harm’s way; a direct violation of treaties that protect the rights of the child. In the 2015 film Children’s Army of Hamas, a Hamas cabinet member praised cooperation with UNRWA​ in the military training program.

The current military training for UNRWA students will last until the start of the school year at the end of August, and includes 120,000 children from UNRWA schools.

Here are some questions for the US Congress:

  1. Will you verify if humanitarian funds for UNRWA were diverted to arms training for UNRWA students?
  2. Will you ask if it is appropriate for a UN agency to allow Hamas on its payroll?
  3. Will you ask if it is appropriate for a UN agency to hold paramilitary exercises in coordination with a terrorist organization?

David Bedein is a community organizer and journalist who runs the Israel Resource News Agency, www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com, and the Center for Near East Policy Research in Israel

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