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Supporting UNRWA is also a form of resistance

May 16,2018 - Last updated at May 16,2018

We all know that the approximately six million Palestinian refugees will not go back home any time soon, not when leaders like Donald Trump are around. Hope for a dignified return and the zeal to prove that they still exist, unwilling to give up their rights, are expressed by Palestinians every day for 70 years after Israel was created on their lands. And in the process, innocent lives are lost and bloodbaths committed. What happened in Gaza three days ago was the latest episode in a series of Israeli massacres meant to silence these voices.

Protests, rallies, armed resistance in occupied lands, diplomacy, art and all other such acts and actions may differ in means but share the same goal. 

But while the struggle continues, we need to consider how to improve the quality of life for millions of Palestinian refugees living in 58 camps across the region, especially after the US drastically slashed its support for UNRWA in January, withholding $65 million of $125 million it had planned to extend to the agency this year. The move left the agency gasping for air and experiencing the worst financial crisis in its 70-year history that may force it to suspend vital services.

In March, Jordan, Sweden and Egypt spearheaded an endeavour to address the situation, gathering at a meeting in Rome to garner support to ensure that the old agency's unprecedented funding deficit of $446 million is urgently resolved. The agency received "strong political support of its mandate", yet the pledges worth $100 million made at the conference were way below expectation.

The failure to secure the remaining $346 million has grave consequences that will reflect on the provision of critical education and health services offered to refugees, whose living conditions are already dismal with high rates of unemployment and poverty and vanishing hopes for a better future. 

The Rome conference was titled "Preserving Dignity and Sharing Responsibility…”; key words that say it all. We, all of us, need to preserve the dignity of refugees through sharing responsibility and since states, including rich Arab countries on which hopes have been pinned, have failed to do that, could it be done at the grassroots level? There are around 2 billion Muslims living on the planet and hundreds of millions of decent humans who firmly stand against US and Israeli injustices. 

An international campaign to collect funding for UNRWA from ordinary people might not be an easy undertaking, but it is not impossible. In fact, it might be, under the circumstances, the best response to Israel and the supporters of its oppressive policies and violations to international and humanitarian laws. Supporting Palestinian refugees through refilling UNRWA's coffers is not only a life-saving effort, but also a gesture that would refresh hope in the hearts of Israel's victims and a strong message to Washington that the entire world has become the "land of the free" after its politicians trashed the very values on which the great American nation was founded. 

When simplified, the job seems really simple: We need 350 million individuals from around the world to donate the price of a few cigarettes or mobile phone calls, or a falafel sandwich and give away a dollar for the cause of justice through a text message. Naive? Maybe, but worth a shot.

 

The writer is the deputy chief editor of
The Jordan Times

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Comments

WHILE I AGREE WITH MR ABED, IT IS SIGNIFICANT TO REMIND ALL STAKE HOLDERS THAT USA IS NOT THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD NOR IT THE DUTY OF USA TO PAY THESE BILLS OR SHOULD THE REGIONAL POWERS IN THE REGION TO EXPECT THIS WHEN THEY KNOW VERY WELL WHAT OUR POLICIES ARE. HOW CAN THIS EVEN BE AN ISSUE WHEN THE PETRO-DOLLAR RICH COUNTRIES OF THE ARAB WORLD DUMP TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN THE COUNTRIES THAT THE PALESTINIANS DEPEND ON FOR SUPPORT WHILE PAY LIP SERVICIES TO THEIR PEOPLE AND TELL THE PALESTINIANS TO SHUT UP OR PUT UP. YES I DO SINCERELY SUPPORT AND WISH THAT OUR GOVERNMENT WILL DO NORE TO SUPPORT THESE CAUSES, THE FACT IS THAT THE ARAB WORLD HAS FAILLED ITS PEOPLE AND SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEIR DEEDS AND HEARTLESS ACTIONS.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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