Organization: The United NationsRelief Welfare Agency
Event: Yale-MUN 2004, Alternative Assignment
Student: Mishal Al-Rashoud
Links to other sites on the Web: Back to the Model UN 2003-2004 page
The UNWRA’s main function is to provide relief and work programs to Palestinian refugees through its headquarters in Gaza and Amman and its numerous field offices. It also grants health and educational services to the refugees. It additionally provides basic relief and social services to make the refugees more self reliant and reduce their dependence on material assistance. It also initiates field and social and economic development in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The work the UNWRA is doing is only a beginning to the final solution of the refugees’ problems. If a Palestinian state is eventually established, the population will eventually need to become as self reliant as possible. In an area of very few natural resources this will be very difficult. Aid workers and expertise will be needed to guide the Palestinian people to a better future. However UNWRA’s future role will ultimately be dependent upon how it is mandated by the UN General Assembly.
The UNWRA is a humanitarian UN agency and its mandate from the UN General Assembly defines its role as one of providing services to the refugees. As such, the Agency is not involved in the political discussions on the future of the refugees, nor does it take sides of the feuding parties.
The UNWRA employs over 24,324 staff, almost 99 percent of them are locally recruited Palestinians. Almost all of them are Palestinian refugees. The organization is currently run by the Commissioner-General Peter Hansen along with a Deputy Commissioner-General. The organization’s appointments are governed by United Nations rules and regulations and terms of employment.
Subsequent to the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, was established by United Nations General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949. Its purpose was to deliver aid and relief programs to Palestinian refugees. The agency officially began running on the 1st of May 1950. Since no solution to the refugee problem has been found the UNRWA has repeatedly had its mandate renewed by the General Assembly. The UNRWA has most recently had its mandate renewed to the 30th of June 2005. It has formed a long lasting bond with the Palestinian refugees. It has provided aid to them for years and will continue to provide this aid until a solution is made for the refugees which we hope is sooner rather than later.
The Middle East Peace Process launched at Madrid in October 1991 represented the first serious framework to settle the Palestine question, and indeed the broader Middle East conflict. The signing of the Declaration of Principles (DOP) between Israel and the PLO had a profound impact on the work and responsibilities of UNRWA. With the establishment of the PA, UNRWA entered a new era in its relationship with the Palestinian people. UNRWA prepared a forward-looking response to support the Peace Process and launched the Peace Implementation Program financed by UNWRA’s 22 major donors in October 1993.
The UNRWA is funded by voluntary donations from governments and the European Union, which make up 95 percent of all income. Four per cent of income is from other United Nations bodies to cover staffing costs. In 2002 the organization was suffering from the problem of under funding with a budget of US$ 326.2 million. As a result of the deficit in contributions, cost-cutting procedures and strict financial management were put into practice to bring expenditure into line with income. Actual expenditure during 2002 was US$ 293.8 million, US$ 32.3 million less than had been budgeted for by the General Assembly. The greatest savings were made through efficiencies in the Agency’s operational and administrative sectors and the smallest possible cuts were made in services to the refugees. The organization creates both graduates and jobs.
The largest percent of the income goes to the education program which is 59.7 percent, and 18.1 percent goes to health services, 10.3 percent goes to relief and social services, and 18.8 percent goes to Operational & Common Services. The United State is the single largest donor at $119.25 million per/year, and it has pledged to give more. Many other countries contribute to UNRWA but Israel is not on the list of member states. Palestine’s total GDP was $1 billion according to recent figure, but in the last couple of years this figure has declined due to the deterioration in the political situation. As for the GNP it was estimated to be only $1,100 per/capita at the end of 2003.
The UNRWA grants all of its services to all Palestinian refugees in need, they do not need to be registered anymore due to the severely harsh conditions they are facing.
A. Key Political Allies
The UNWRA works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) in the areas of education and health. Its member nations are: 1-Egypt 2-France 3-Japan 4-Jordan 5-Lebanon 6-Syria 7-Turkey 8-United Kingdom 9-United States 10-Belgium 11-PLO (as observer)
A strength of the UNWRA is that it provides aid to over 4.1 million registered Palestinian refugees, and this is an immense number of people. It provides many different forms of aid, which are stated above, to all of the refugees. Another strength is the way the funding for the different types of aid is distributed. Education is given the largest percent of the income, because an uneducated person isn’t able to achieve any thing, so imagine what a nation of uneducated people would be like.
The UNRWA is the largest employer of Palestinian refugees, so just by it running it provides job opportunities to 24,324 staff, in which 99 percent of them are Palestinian refugees.
The UNRWA has many programs that cover essential parts of the Palestinian refugees lives, these committees are:
Education; The Palestine refugee community has conventionally sited great emphasis on education as the solution to a better future. Regardless of often difficult circumstances, Palestinians are one of the most highly educated groups in the Middle East. This achievement has been made possible in large part by the contribution of UNRWA in educating three generations of refugees.
Health; Since its establishment, the Agency has been the main health care provider for the Palestine refugee population, providing the following health services, primary health car, nutrition and supplementary feeding, assistance with secondary health care, environmental health in refugee camps.
Relief and Social Services; The agency's relief and social services program supports the poorest refugee families who are unable to meet their own basic needs. The program also facilitates longer-term social and economic development for refugees and their communities without prejudice to their rights as refugees recognized in United Nations General Assembly resolutions.
MMP; UNRWA launched its microfinance and microenterprise program (MMP) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in June 1991. This initiative was taken in response to rapidly deteriorating economic conditions marked by high unemployment and spreading poverty following the outbreak of the first intifadah in 1987 and the Gulf War. After 1993 the program intensified its activities in support of the peace process through UNRWA's Peace Implementation Program. MMP is now organized around four revolving loan funds in Gaza and two in the West Bank. These make loans to small-scale enterprises in Gaza and the West Bank (the Small-Scale Enterprise product), to women organized in groups in Gaza only (the Solidarity Group Lending product), to microenterprises in Gaza and the West Bank (the Microenterprise Credit product), and to workers and low-paid professionals (Consumer Lending product).
A weakness of the UNWRA is that it has had events where planning for terrorist activities was occurring in the UNWRA camps and the UNWRA did not detect it. Many of the suicide bombers who crossed the border to kill Jews in Netanya reportedly came from the UNRWA’s camps without the UNRWA workers knowing about it.
UNRWA camps have become strongholds for terrorist forces right under the UNRWA’s noses. In fact the camps themselves have promoted a culture of anger and dependency that weakens both regional peace and the well-being of the camps' inhabitants. The UNRWA officials have not only failed to prevent their camps from becoming centers of terrorist activity, but have also failed to report these developments to the UN.
In my point of view the solution to the weakness is very hard since there are over 4.1 million refugees.
Unless a Palestinian state is established there can be no final solution. However this is a solution to what can be done to help secure the camps:
A) Place close surveillance on all refugees suspected of having ties with terrorist groups and all known extremists.
B) Carry out extensive searches on all refugees and materials entering the camps to ensure no weapons are smuggled in.
C) Any suspected terrorist ties or activities should immediately be reported to the United Nations for thorough investigation.
D) Monitor each local steering committee which is in charge of distributing the funds received as charitable donations from relief organizations and donor countries around the world to ensure that the money goes towards the refugees and no purchasing weapons.
E) Perform searches on all storage area’s in camps to ensure no weapons are being stored.
Staff from the UN and UNRWA would perform all of the previous actions.
Good day ladies and gentlemen.
The UNWRA welcomes all of you here today, and is honored to be among such prestigious delegates. The UNWRA gives hope and the prospect of a brighter future to a people facing desperate living conditions. Ever since 1950 it has fed, housed and clothed tens of thousands of fleeing refugees and at the same time educated and given health care to hundreds of thousands of young refugees.
The UNRWA looks forward to a day when its services are no longer needed. But until then we are sad but proud to say that we are giving over 4.1 million refugees a better life step by step.