Sunday, June 05, 2016

05-Jun-16: Where does the money for the ongoing decades-long UNRWA fiasco come from? Updated data

A pre-teen boy at an UNRWA school in Jerusalem and the 
guidance he received thanks to a billion dollar budget 
funded by Western countries [Click to view the video source]
UNRWA was created almost seventy years ago and has evolved into the UN's single largest arm, employing more than 30,000 staffers. 

Fully 99% of that hugely blown-up total workforce is made up of locally recruited Palestinian Arabs, says Wikipedia

So long as the mind-numbing, ongoing flow of cash and diplomatic coddling keeps on, UNRWA will not slow down - or achieve any of the goals which it was created to pursue.

Its purpose in life, as expressed in UN Resolution A/RES/302 (IV) from December 8, 1949, is
relief of the Palestine refugees... to prevent conditions of starvation and distress among them and to further conditions of peace and stability, and that constructive measures should be undertaken at an early date with a view to the termination of international assistance for relief...
But in reality, those goals, essentially short-term and temporary, were abandoned decades ago. Temporary fixes are often the most permanent of structures. 

People new to the amazing Palestinian Arab refugee tale might find it hard to believe what a person needs to do in order to qualify as a Palestinian Arab refugee:
Palestine refugees are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” [UNRWA's website]
Yes. If you had lived there for 23 months, you were entitled to UNRWA support (pensions, allowances, food, clothing, basic household items, schooling, psycho-social activities, health services, shelter, welfare services) for life, and so are your children, and their great-great-great-great grandchildren until forever. 
A little girl tells the interviewer in her UNRWA school in Jerusalem what
she has been taught about why her people have to make war [Source: Video]
The UN incredibly defined Palestinian Arab refugee status as something you inherited... in perpetuity. 

So then how surprising is it to know the number of Palestinian Arab "refugees" has been exploding for decades? How could it not? And why would a Palestinian Arab family ever admit to a family member having died or succeeding in life?

According to UNRWA's published data:
In May 1951, UNRWA inherited a list of 950,000 persons from its predecessor agencies. In the first four months of operations, UNRWA reduced this list to 860,000 persons, based on painstaking census efforts and identification of fraudulent claims. The 1948 registered refugees and their descendants now number five million,
Having multiplied itself by a factor of nearly six in these 6+ decades of furthering "conditions of peace and stability" and of funding by others, does anyone imagine this number of beneficiaries is going to get smaller? Ever? There is no doubt at all that it is going to keep ballooning and unless UNRWA is forcibly stopped so will the problems it has created.

Yet on one perfectly reasonable view, UNRWA has succeeded. A large majority of those Palestinian Arab refugees live today in homes unconnected to refugee camps, reside in one of the two Palestinian Arab statelets - the one based in Ramallah, the other in Gaza - under Palestinian Arab control, or hold citizenship in various countries. 

Needless to say, if you have been following the scandal down through the years, UNRWA and its fans don't see this as success. Or as reality. They invest serious energy in endlessly reframing the catastrophe so that it's about homeless, hopeless refugees, totally dependent on charity, driven by endless yearning for a lost homeland (the one that served many of them for 20 months), and always, but always, needing more cash. 

Now let's note that UNRWA is not the United Nations' only refugee agency. UNHCR, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, deals with all the world's refugees except for those who come under the rubric of UNRWA. There are many times more refugees being helped by UNHCR than there are Palestinian Arabs being helped by UNRWA. Yet UNHCR, with by far the larger work load, has a staff that's only about one third the size of UNRWA's:
At the end of 2015, we employed over 9,700 people. Around 89 per cent of our staff are based in the field. We work in 126 countries, with staff based in a mixture of regional and branch offices and sub and field offices. Our staff work hard to help the displaced, specializing in a wide range of disciplines, including legal protection, administration, community services, public affairs and health.[UNHCR Figures at a Glance]
Qataris and their cash [Source: Arabian Business, March 2015
And note this statistic: "UNHCR has one staff member for every 5,500 refugees and other persons of concern. UNRWA has one staff person for every 182 people registered by UNRWA." [Source, March 2015]

So given that the UN operates two parallel but very separate refugee agencies with massively different per capita resource deployment (obviously favoring UNRWA), who pays for the Palestinian Arab one? The obscenely wealthy Arab oil potentates, perhaps? Or the Qataris who will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and are spending, as The Guardian memorably reported half a year ago, $200,000,000,000 on soccer stadiums and other essentials? 

Not even close. 

We published a table of UNRWA's main donors based on 2013 donations [source] a while back ["04-Jun-15: Exploding for decades: UNRWA needs more, more, more"] while explaining that its funding is perpetually in crisis. It listed the Top 20 contributors to UNRWA for that year, and showed that the Arab donors in the Top 20 contributed 16.1% of what the entire Top 20 gave.

Earlier, the 2012 UNRWA donor table [here] showed Saudi Arabia on the list as the sole Arab donor

And earlier still, the 2010 numbers [here] showed not a single Arab donor in the Top 20 list, and this after more than sixty years of UNRWA activity.

Seeing a pattern?

We have just taken a close look at the 2015 donations to UNRWA via an official UNRWA publication [online here]. The numbers are correct as of the last day of 2015. Some highlights:
  • The overall sum pledged (not received - they don't yet know that number) is $1.2 billion. 
  • Of this, all the Arab donors - countries, princes, sheikhs, oil potentates, banks - taken together provided 13.4% of the total. 
  • It follows that non-Arab donors are providing 86.6% of the budget - and that's before we get into the sordid matter of countries who pledge but don't pay.
  • By far the largest share of the overall burden is borne by the United States: 26.8% of UNRWA's Programme budget, and 37.0% of UNWRA's Non-Programme budget. (Non-Programme budget is the grab-bag title given to these components: Projects; Syria Appeal; Gaza Recovery & Reconstruction; Emergency Appeal (oPt); Nahr el-Bared Palestine Refugee Camp Relief and Reconstruction.)
Here is our list of UNRWA's major enablers based on those December 2015 statistics:

We prepared this table by transcribing UNRWA's published money data and then doing some basic
statistical interpretations
The Arab donors contributed about 13.5% both on a Top 20 basis and on a whole-donor-list basis. That's a significant decline, percentage-wise, over the 2013 numbers.
Another child explains what he learned in his Jerusalem-area UNRWA
school [Click to see the video]

We think the video clip we showcased in another post of ours ["30-May-16: Listen to the children to understand who is weaponizing them and how [Video]produced by The Center for Near East Policy Research just a few days ago gives a good sense of what UNRWA donors are getting for their donations - in business terms, their return on investment, or ROI. (Check out the additional background on the YouTube page that hosts the clip). 

Though the video runs for less than ten minutes, it turns the turgid prose - and figures - above into very uncomfortable realities. 

It also puts faces and voices to the hundreds of thousands of child-victims of the appalling UNRWA, a self-praised United Nations agency with a track-record of destroying lives, as we explained just last week here: "
30-May-16: Barbarism, bigotry and blood-lust: What a UN-provided education delivers". This is a humanitarian disaster, one that far too many prominent politicians and diplomats prefer we don't comprehend or see. 

To review some more of the awful things for which UNRWA stands and that keep us concerned, see
[This post, like a number of others before it, has been translated to Polish ("Skąd pochodzą pieniądze na trwające dziesięciolecia nieszczęście pod nazwą UNRWA?") by courtesy of Malgorzata Koraszewska over on the Listy z naszego sadu website. Our sincere thanks to her again, and great appreciation to readers of this blog in Poland.]

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