The Refugee Agency For Palestinians Is In Peril | EUROtoday

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Yassine Daoud remembers when he first eyed the flyer on the refugee camp in Lebanon the place he grew up. It was for a scholarship to check within the United States.

He was a nosy and curious child, memorizing each license plate he noticed on the town for enjoyable, and he was a voracious reader. He needed to use, however the deadline was the following morning.

That didn’t deter Daoud. He instantly enlisted the assistance of his trainer, who labored at a college supported by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees within the Near East (UNRWA). The faculty’s administrator saved it open after hours so Daoud may collect his transcript for his utility. Together, they labored late into the evening beneath by a kerosene lamp and met Daoud’s deadline.

Thirty-five years later, Daoud is the chair of ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins Howard County Medical Center in Maryland, due to the schooling and the help he obtained from UNRWA.

UNRWA was created by a U.N. General Assembly decision in 1949 after Israel’s founding — and after what Palestinians name the Nakba, the Arabic phrase for disaster, when 700,000 Palestinians had been forcibly pushed from their houses. The company’s purpose was to offer direct reduction and support to Palestine’s refugees.

When UNRWA started operations in 1950, it catered to just about 750,000 Palestinian refugees. Today it serves practically 6 million, in Gaza, the West Bank and neighboring Arab states. In Gaza, UNRWA’s companies are in dire want, with virtually your entire inhabitants counting on the help group for primary requirements, together with meals, water, and hygiene provides.

Daoud credit UNRWA for the schooling he obtained. “Despite the fact that we were very poor and destitute and refugees, our educational level as Palestinians was one of the highest in the Middle East and actually in the world,” he stated.

A view of destruction on Feb. 11 at UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City. The U.N. agency provides aid to millions of Palestinians.
A view of destruction on Feb. 11 at UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City. The U.N. company supplies support to thousands and thousands of Palestinians.

Karam Hassan/Anadolu by way of Getty Images

The destiny of UNRWA has been hanging by a thread since final month, when Israeli officers alleged that 12 of the company’s 13,000-member workers took half in Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault on Israel, which killed 1,200 folks. On Friday, Israel launched extra particulars about these workers, together with their names, pictures and alleged ties to Hamas.

The backlash to Israel’s report was swift. Sixteen nations suspended their funding to the nonprofit group, together with Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland ― in addition to the U.S., one among its prime funders. On Wednesday, the Senate handed a invoice that features language to finish all U.S. help for UNRWA solely, although that invoice is unlikely to turn out to be legislation.

The U.N. company stated that it could run out of funding by the top of February if nations didn’t resume donations and that thousands and thousands of individuals could be susceptible to dropping entry to important support.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed a panel to overview the allegations in opposition to UNRWA. While some media experiences have solid doubt on some Israeli claims ― the U.Okay.’s Channel 4 News even reported that Israel offered no proof that UNRWA workers participated within the Oct. 7 assaults ― the Biden administration stated it could not resume donations till the investigation is full. A second U.N. investigation into Israel’s allegations in opposition to the UNRWA is ongoing. And the European Commission ― the third-biggest donor to UNRWA after the United States and Germany ― has demanded a separate audit.

But these investigations may take weeks, if not months, and plenty of Palestinians say time is working in opposition to them. Refugees like Daoud say they wouldn’t have made it out of such debilitating and arduous situations if it wasn’t for the help of UNRWA.

Daoud grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Baalbek, Lebanon, northeast of the capital. His residence was composed of 1 room, the place he resided together with his dad and mom and 9 siblings. It was their bed room, kitchen, eating and front room.

Their livelihood relied on the help offered by UNRWA, which included meals and water rations, they usually attended the UNRWA faculties. There, Daoud excelled and he obtained a scholarship to check at United World College-USA in New Mexico.

After graduating, he went on to finish his schooling at Amherst College on a full scholarship. In 2005, he obtained his medical diploma from Harvard, then accomplished a three-year residency at Duke University Eye Center, adopted by a medical internship at John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

To date, Daoud stated he carried out over 10,000 surgical procedures.

“Without that scholarship, I wouldn’t know where I would be,” stated Daoud.

The sufferers who obtained his care, he argued, additionally “benefitted from the groundwork that UNRWA was doing in my refugee camp to enable me to be the person who I am.”

Palestinians line up on Feb. 9 for relief food supplies in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said Israel has rejected half of the aid requests it has submitted for northern Gaza.
Palestinians line up on Feb. 9 for reduction meals provides within the southern Gaza Strip metropolis of Rafah. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees within the Near East (UNRWA) stated Israel has rejected half of the help requests it has submitted for northern Gaza.

Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua News Agency by way of Getty Images

Palestinian American doctor, translator, and award-winning poet Fady Joudah, says UNRWA doesn’t solely present a important lifeline for Palestinians’ survival however is a key group in upholding Palestinian tradition.

Joudah’s dad and mom had been in a position to obtain an schooling by way of UNRWA throughout their time in northern Gaza. His father went on to turn out to be a UNRWA instructing assistant within the early Nineteen Fifties and generated an revenue to offer for his household. He went on to check in Egypt after which immigrated to the U.S., the place he labored on his grasp’s and doctorate levels. Joudah was born there in 1971. Joudah’s mom and her six siblings all obtained well being care from UNRWA.

“UNRWA contributed to the general sense of Palestinian society through education and health care, to kind of begin to envision a future for the future generations,” stated Joudah, who now lives in Austin, Texas.

Joudah, whose poems concentrate on the complexity of Palestinian id, stated the lack of UNRWA as a company could be a loss for Palestinian roots and traditions.

“The shutting down or destroying of UNRWA is really about cultural genocide,” he stated. “UNRWA is not a perfect body, but it has provided an avenue and a window for [people in] Palestinian society to empower themselves. It was one of the avenues to create Palestinian culture, through self-empowerment and self-sufficiency with jobs, education, and health care.”

Since Israel started bombing Gaza after the Hamas assaults, greater than 150 UNRWA workers members have been killed. Nearly 45% of the overall inhabitants has sought shelter in UNRWA faculties, clinics, and different public buildings.

Israel has tried to dismantle the company for years, arguing it fosters anti-Israel sentiment. UNRWA has lengthy disputed these claims.

Earlier this month, EU international coverage chief Josep Borrell advised reporters that Israeli allegations wanted to be vetted, given the nation’s longstanding needs to see it ended.

“The presumption of innocence is valid for everyone, at any time, even for UNRWA. It is not a secret that the Israeli government wants to get rid of UNRWA,” stated Borell.

“Nobody else can do what UNRWA is doing,” he added.

UNRWA has additionally confronted different controversies previously. In 2019, the pinnacle of the company resigned over allegations of abuses of energy. In 2014, the pinnacle of the United Nations expressed alarm after rockets had been discovered at a vacant UNRWA faculty and later went lacking.

Earlier this week, Israel’s navy alleged that it positioned Hamas tunnels partly beneath the UNRWA’s headquarters, which the group evacuated at the beginning of the conflict.

The support group’s commissioner-general, Philippe Lazzarini, stated on X (previously Twitter) that they weren’t “aware of any activity that may have taken place at their headquarters since staff evacuated the premises following the Israeli evacuation orders last October.”

Daoud stated the significance of UNRWA’s work stems past saving civilians in Gaza, to a lifelong resolution for peace for the Palestinian inhabitants as a complete.

“Hunger may not kill people, but ignorance can. Therefore educating the population and educating the students and enabling them to explore the world and to give them these opportunities is what keeps the population afloat,” stated Daoud.

“If you don’t do that, the destitution be more and the violence will be more, and then no one benefits from that. It’s a safety net. If anything, UNRWA needs help, it does not need to be cut off.”