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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lawrence Solomon: The UN’s refugee welfare racket

In the West, it’s known as welfare fraud. In the Palestinian Territories, it’s called refugee relief. In both places, the fraud can become a way of life, seen as an entitlement that children and then grandchildren adopt. Only in the Palestinian Territories, though, does the welfare agency see its goal as putting more people on welfare and keeping them there, the better to keep “the Palestinian refugee crisis” alive.
That welfare agency is called the United Nations Relief and Aid Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA as it’s commonly known. UNRWA doesn’t focus its efforts on resettling Palestinian refugees in foreign countries that would welcome them, as might be expected of a refugee agency, or even on resettling them in their own homeland when possible.
UNRWA doesn’t even limit its efforts to what most people, and all dictionaries, would consider “refugees” — in UNRWA’s books, a refugee can be just about anyone who wants to be one. As a result, the number of Palestinian “refugees,” rather than diminishing to nothing, has grown like topsy over the decades.
UNRWA didn’t always have a create-new-refugees mission. Founded in 1949 as a temporary organization to alleviate the plight of Palestinian refugees fleeing Israel, its laudable goal included emergency relief and “the economic integration of the refugees in host countries.” By funding nearby development projects that would employ the refugees, UNRWA intended to “make them self-sufficient to a point where their names could be deleted from the relief rolls.” UNWRA initially even culled its lists of fraudulent applications, thought to number in the tens of thousands, by people using false births and duplicate registrations with variations of their names.

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