Daily Alert included an excerpt from an op-ed in Newsweek, At the U.N., Special Treatment for Palestinians Shouldn’t Be Automatic, co-written by CEO Daniel Mariaschin and Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels. A link to the full op-ed was also included.
Established almost 74 years ago, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is among the costliest of UN agencies. UNRWA’s budget now exceeds $1 billion every year. The general UN budget is just $3 billion – and now the General Assembly has agreed to consider contributing directly to UNRWA from it at the expense of countless acute global priorities.
UNRWA is the only UN refugee agency dedicated to a population of just one origin. All the world’s other refugees are served by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Although more than 100 million people have been displaced in today’s world – from Eritrea, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Syria, and now Ukraine – UNRWA’s staff is double the size of UNHCR’s.
Rather than heavily prioritize the descendants of some who fled warfare in 1948 over all those fleeing warfare globally today, the UN should tackle the policies that have allowed the Palestinian issue to fester – including host countries’ refusal to integrate longtime residents, Palestinian leaders’ refusal of pragmatic compromise, and UNRWA’s encouragement of a maximalism that is no recipe for a better future.
Daniel S. Mariaschin is CEO and David J. Michaels is director of UN and Intercommunal Affairs at B’nai B’rith International. (Newsweek)