By Shlomo Shamir, May 22, 2002
NEW YORK – The ranking Democrat on the House International Relations
Committee, Tom Lantos, has asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to
conduct a formal probe into the operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency
in the territories prior to the June 30 scheduled renewal of its mandate.
“My concern is that, for too long, UNRWA has been part of the problem, rather
than the solution, in the Middle East,” Lantos wrote in a May 13 letter to
Annan. “However initially well-intentioned, UNRWA camps have fostered a
culture of anger and dependency that undermines both regional peace and the
wellbeing of the camps’ inhabitants.”
The California congressman expressed his concern “that 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 you.”
Lantos concluded that “it is difficult to escape the painful conclusion that
UNRWA, directly or indirectly, is complicit in terrorism.”
AIPAC facts: UNRWA camps used as terrorist strongholds
UNRWA’s temporary mission has long been ignored by the U.N. and Arab
— Originally envisaged as a temporary organization, the U.N. Relief and Works
Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) began operation in 1950.
Today, UNRWA operates 27 refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza,
home to more than 3.7 million Palestinians (Wall Street Journal, 4-18-02 and
In a November 1951 report, UNRWA director John Blandford Jr. said he
expected Arab governments to assume responsibility for relief operations by
– As Ralph Garroway, a former UNRWA director, explained in August 1958:
“The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want
to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon
against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.”
(Jerusalem Post, 4-18-02)
U.N.-run camps are now primary bases for known terrorist groups.
— UNRWA camps have become the main operating centers for Hamas, Islamic
Jihad and PFLP, terrorist groups responsible for the killing of hundreds of
Israelis and the injuring of thousands. Twenty-three suicide bombers,
responsible for killing 57 Israelis and injuring 1,000, came from the UNRWA
camp in Jenin alone.
— While UNRWA is responsible for all aspects of the administration of the
camps, the U.N. has ceded control to the terrorist elements operating within
them. As former Ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsburg explains, “The refugee
camps indeed are not policed by anyone but the Palestinian Authority, with the
United Nations Relief and Works Administration personnel administering the
lion’s share of the programs. But other organizations, including extremist
Islamic organizations, operate freely in the camps.”
(Fox News 5-1-02)
— Israel, during recent searches of UNRWA camps, has uncovered illegal arms
caches, bomb factories and a plant manufacturing the new Qassam-2 rocket,
designed to reach Israeli population.
(Wall Street Journal, 4-18-02)
UNWRA runs schools that teach hatred toward Israel.
— UNRWA operates one of the largest school systems in the Middle East, with
266 schools and 242,000 students. The system comprises half its budget and
two-thirds of its staff.
UNRWA uses and funds textbooks that incorporate maps of the Middle
East that omit Israel and that delegitimize Israel, Judaism and Jews.
(Weekly Standard, 5-13-02)
— U.N. abdicates its responsibility to act against terrorism. Several U.N.
Resolutions and other documents reiterate the need to ensure that UNRWA
camps do not become armed fortresses for terrorist entities. U.N. Secretary
General Kofi Annan, speaking about camps in Africa, said: “Refugee camps and
settlements must be kept free from any military presence or equipment
including arms and ammunition” and must not serve as “launching pads for
(U.N. Document A/52/871, April 1998)
— In a speech given July 6, 2001, UNRWA representative Saheil Alhinadi
praised Hamas suicide attacks, saying: “The road to Palestine passes through
the blood of the fallen, and these fallen have written history with parts of their
flesh and their bodies
The United States funds 30 percent of UNRWA budget.
— In recent years, the United States has provided 30 percent of the UNRWA
budget, while Saudi Arabia has given less than one percent, Syria just $37,209
and Egypt only $10,000. Meanwhile, countries like Iraq and Libya give no
money to UNRWA. Instead, Iraq sends bounties of $25,000 to families of
(Weekly Standard, 5-13-02).