Oct. 11, 2019
UNRWA Must Evolve or Dissolve, Says Former Senior Agency Official – Ellie Rudee
“Direct pressure” by donors is the most likely way to induce UNRWA, the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees, to change, former UNRWA general counsel James Lindsay told JNS last week. Lindsay said that only 10% of UNRWA’s current budget goes to basic, immediate needs, while the rest goes to education and medical care, which he called “governmental responsibilities.” “There is no reason why the United Nations should be providing that,” he said.
UNRWA’s major structural problem, he said, is its unique definition of who qualifies as a refugee. Palestinians who have citizenship in their host countries, including 1.8 million Jordanian citizens, are still classified as refugees. “UNRWA persists in falsely identifying people who are citizens of states as ‘refugees,’ perpetuating a sense of helplessness, victimhood and revanchism,” he said. Lindsay called on UNRWA donors to push for “rational changes” to the definition of a refugee, or push to dissolve the organization over the next five years. (JNS)