David Bedein

UN Raises Funds for UNRWA Financial Crisis That Does Not Exist

As of December 31, 2017, UNRWA posted a financial statement that its income rested at a stable $1.2 billion, stemming from donations from 68 donor nations and 27 other sources.

Yet on September 27, The UN hosts a session to discuss an alleged financial crisis faced by UNRWA, launched by a Sweden, Japan Germany and Turkey, among others. The background: In January, 2018, the US announced a cut of $65 million from the US donation, granting UNRWA half of its first payment of $130 million. In other words, the US was slashing 5% from the total UNRWA budget

Almost immediately, UNRWA issued screaming declarations the US totally slashed its total allocation to UNRWA, which it did not do until August 31, 2018, and that UNRWA could not function without the US donation. All this, despite the fact that UNRWA itself issued acknowledgements to other donor nations who quickly filled the gap in funding that the US had left. To make sure that the UNRWA message that it had been rendered destitute by the US cutbacks  would be heard around the world, UNRWA hired a PR firm, “Marathon Strategies”, which had helped former Secretaries of State , John Kerry and Hillary Clinton in their  respective presidential campaigns. With new PR support, UNRWA launched a  campaign, “Dignity is Priceless”. The culmination of that campaign occurred on World Refugee Day, on June 25, when UNRWA conducted a press conference to declare that UNRWA was indeed bereft of funds, because of  US cutbacks.

In the wake of the UNRWA June 25 briefing, The Center for Near East Policy Research contacted UNRWA donors, to determine if any nation had withdrawn  its funding. 44 nations confirmed that they  continued to fund UNRWA during  2018, while more than a dozen governments issued statements that they were increasing donations to UNRWA, including Sweden, Norway, Turkey, the UK, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. By July 15, the Center for Near East Policy Research tabulated that UNRWA, which pleaded poverty and even stopped paying salaries, sat on a cash flow of close to a billion dollars was netted by UNRWA during their “Dignity is Priceless”  campaign.

Yet UNRWA claims that it only can function until the end of October, issuing press releases each day, in 20 languages, claiming each day that the US cutback has  caused the UNRWA fiscal crisis. Unpaid UNRWA workers now conduct demonstrations to protest UNWRA has reduction in  fees to the 29,000 UNRWA workers.

UNRWA workers and the donor nations to UNRWA are not fools.

UNRWA employees and UNRWA donor nations should NOW ask about the transparency and accountability of funds that flow to UNRWA from 67 other donor nations.

Where did close to a billion dollars in aid this year to UNRWA wind up?

About the Author
David Bedein, who grew up in Philadelphia and moved to Israel in 1970 at the age of 20, is an MSW community organizer by profession and an expereinced investigative journalist. In 1987 he established the Israel Resource News Agency, with offices at the Beit Agron Int’l Press Center in Jerusalem, where he also serves as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research. In 1991, Bedein was the special CNN middle east radio correspondent. Since 2001, Bedein has contributed features to the newspaper Makor Rishon. In 2006, Bedein became the foreign correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. He is the author of " The Genesis of the Palestinian Authority" and "ROADBLOCK TO PEACE- How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA policies reconsidered"and the director and producer of the numerous short films about UNRWA policy which can be located at: