July 23, 2019

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Why, exactly, does @UNRWA exist in Jordan again? No one seems to know.


Last week, UNRWA tweeted this:

Which again brings up a fundamental question: Why does UNRWA still exist in Jordan?

There are over 2.2 million Palestinians getting services from UNRWA in Jordan, about 45% of the total number of people that get UNRWA aid. The vast majority of “refugees” in UNRWA are not refugees by any definition, but in Jordan the disconnect is worse – since nearly all of them are citizens of Jordan.

And their families have been citizens for 70 years.

What possible justification is there to maintain a parallel educational, housing and medical aid system for full Jordanian citizens, on the world’s dime?

And just as importantly, why does the world accept Jordan officially treating a significant part of its population as not being quite Jordanian?

Even the most ardent fans of UNRWA have no answer to this. I once engaged in a brief Twitter discussion with a major academic supporter of UNRWA who claimed (falsely) that UNRWA’s criteria for being a “refugee” is very close to that of UNHCR, but even he admitted that there is no way UNHCR would accept most Jordanians as refugees.

Yet UNRWA, with all of its financial crises, still exists in Jordan and still provides hundreds of millions of dollars of services there. While the US is thankfully no longer contributing to this organization whose only purpose is to keep Palestinian nationalism alive instead of trying to solve a refugee problem, one has to wonder when the other major donors to UNRWA will start asking the simple question: what possible justification is there for a continued presence in Jordan of an “refugee” organization that is giving services to people who are fully Jordanian citizens and haven’t been refugees by any definition for decades?

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