Gaza Experts warned of US and Israeli efforts to Arabize and weaken UNRWA by pushing donors to stop their financial aid.
This came during a political meeting entitled “UNRWA: to where in the light of the financial crisis and corruption investigations?”, organized by Council on International Relations -Palestine in Gaza City, attended representatives of Palestinian factions and political analysts.
“UNRWA is not going through a financial crisis only but a political one, made by the US administration, in preparation for implementing “the Deal of the Century”, liquidating the refugees’ issue and ending the UNRWA’s work “, the attendants said.
Dr. Basem Naim, head of the Council, said there is a consensus that the real crisis is political, and reflects the Zionist-American conspiracy to end the UNRWA and to pave the way to end the Palestinian refugees’ issue.
For his part, Dr. Samir Abu Modallalah, a researcher at the Refugee Centre for Community Development, said the financial crisis has been inherent to UNRWA since its establishment, but with the signing of the Oslo Agreement in 1993, attempts were clear to end the Agency and throw it into the lap of Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority.
Abu Modallala said: “the core of the UNRWA crisis is political because “ending UNRWA will end the refugee’s issue.”
He explained that UNRWA is a temporary institution ad defined by the United Nations, and is renewed every three years. That leads us to wonder why its budget is not as permanent as UNESCO and FAO?!
He added, “We need to work on two levels: First, how to reduce UNRWA’s financial expenses in return for increasing services for refugees. Second, to move politically and reduce the pressure on the Agency, for fear that UNRWA becomes an Arab institution that is thrown into the Arab’s lap.
Huwaidi stressed that the US administration and the Israeli Occupation do not hesitate to seize any opportunity to pressure the United Nations to reduce moral and financial support to UNRWA.
“the fastest the findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry declared, the better for the donors to keep supporting the agency,” Hwaidi said in terms of corruption investigations in UNRWA.
UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said that UNRWA does not have the authority to renew its mandate, a vote of the Member States of the United Nations General Assembly does.
He said that UNRWA has been facing financial challenges since 2018 when the United States decided to reduce its aid from $360 million annual budget to only $60 million.
“We faced a large deficit of $446 million which is an existential deficit. Any organization that loses 40% of its budget is exposed to collapse. However, UNRWA was able to fill this gap ”, Abu Hasna added.
“Before UNRWA’s new mandate, are we optimistic or pessimistic?” Abu Hasna said, “We fear the nature of the region and events, but there is a great support for UNRWA and its role in the new mandate,” he said.
Regarding the Agency’s corruption investigations, Abu Hasna said some allegations are being investigated by a UN team, no conclusions are reached to date.
He explained that UNRWA is not only the only organization with allegations and investigations; “But as soon as these allegations came out, we were surprised that Israeli and US officials demanded the liquidation of UNRWA, including US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt,” he said.