United Nations High Commission for Refugees - IDIA
PhilMUN 2010 17 United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Near East (UNRWA), its Donors, and Non-Governmental Organizations UNRWA was mandated “to carry out direct relief and works programmes in collaboration with local governments," to "consult with the Near Eastern governments concerning measures to be taken preparatory to the time when international assistance for relief and works projects is no longer available.” 59 The agency remains essential to all fields of refugee relief and will remain in operation pending a just settlement to the refugee problem. Most of the funding for UNRWAs work comes from the contribution of donor states, including the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, European Commission, Japan, Canada, Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and Scandinavian countries. A small portion of funding comes from NGOs. Organizations such as the WHO and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization assist with the staffing of education and health programs. UNRWA forms partnerships with NGOs, such as CARE International and Doctors Without Borders, to work together to run essential services for Palestine refugees, The NGOs are useful in that they offer technical expertise and training. They are generally medical-humanitarian, human rights and development oriented. 60 The agency is currently under-funded and the amount of funding is inadequate to sustain the growth of the refugee population as well as their growing needs, which will be very detrimental to the quality of UNRWA’s services. UNRWA is under even more strain due to the current humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza caused by Israeli closure, causing it to repeatedly launch emergency appeals for emergency food as well as employment and cash assistance. While UNRWA spends a considerable portion of its budget on health and relief services, more than half of its budget is spent on the education 59 “History and Establishment of UNRWA”. UNRWA. http://www.un.org/unrwa/overview/qa.html (Accessed 11/21/2009) 60 Ibid.
PhilMUN 2010 18 program. UNRWA is dedicated to Palestinian refugees, however, it requires more funding from donors and collaboration from host governments and NGOs. 61 Due to the lack of sovereignty and authority that organizations such as UNRWA and NGOs have, they must agree to the will of both refugees and host States. NGOs cannot implement their programs and projects if the host state does not approve. This can be clearly seen in the area of public health infrastructure. NGOs trying to improve the public infrastructure in refugee camps are limited in the sense that it would be most efficient if it were linked to the infrastructure of the host state, which the host government deems undesirable. Thus, it is necessary for NGOs to concede to the will of host states and create projects that are compatible with their policies. Host States The relationship between refugees and host countries varies widely. For example, Jordan has proved to be a welcoming host by granting refugees citizenship since 1954 and while Syria and Lebanon do not. Syria it allows refugees to work and own property, while in Lebanon, refugees are not allowed to work in most professions can only own property with special permission. Overall, host states view refugees as destabilizing and a threat to political and economic security. Because of the stigma attached to them, many refugees have been unable to benefit from certain basic rights or to integrate into the societies in which they live. While, hosts receive refugees in good will, they sometimes perceive an improvement in the conditions of refugee camps will lead to permanent settlements. 62 Host states are usually responsible for the overall infrastructures of the camps and they are to ensure the refugees receive the same quality of health services as their own citizens. Host states spend millions of dollars each year to support refugee camps but also appeal to the international community for support. Host states would prefer to have less responsibility for the refugees and push for their repatriation. Governments sometimes 61 Ibid. 62 Cook, Richard. Palestinian Camps and Refugees in Lebanon: Priorities, Challenges and Opportunities Ahead. American University of Beirut.