UNRWA and the Palestinian refugee problem
Want a short synopsis on the refugee issue? Check out this concise, but incredibly informative, 5 minute video from Danny Ayalon, Israel's Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs:
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA’s) sole purpose is to provide assistance to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Unlike refugees of other conflicts and wars across the world who are assisted by the UNHCR – the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNRWA was established in 1948 specifically to deal with Arab refugees following the 1948 War of Independence and eventually with subsequent wars. Not only have the Palestinians that were displaced during these periods been given refugee status, but all of their descendants as well – a unique definition of refugee that applies only to the Arab Palestinian people.
UNRWA’s budget, which exceeds $365 million, is funded mostly by the US with contributions from the EU and other world bodies. In the past decade the US has continually increased its annual contribution to UNWRA – from $134 million in 2003 to $267.9 million in 2009. This is in addition to millions of dollars funneled through USAID. Altogether, US aid to the Palestinians averages around $388 million per year. (1)
(1) Sharp, Jeremy M. U. S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends, and the FY 2010 Request. DIANE, 2010. pg. 10.