Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Your US Tax Dollars at Work

I've been informed that the U.S. Contributes $126.8 Million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and here's the full statement:

The United States is pleased to announce a contribution of $126.8 million toward the 2011 operations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The contribution, funded through the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, will support UNHCR’s programs worldwide, including refugee returns to such places as Afghanistan and the Sudan; local integration and resettlement; and protection and life-saving assistance. U.S. funding supports the provision of water, shelter, food, healthcare, and education to refugees, internally displaced persons, and other persons under UNHCR’s care and protection in countries such as Iraq, Colombia, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Rwanda.

However, did you know that last March, the Office of the Spokesman of the State Department announced that

Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Eric P. Schwartz welcomed Filippo Grandi, recently appointed Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), to Washington DC on March 11, 2010, and announced that the U.S. will make an additional planned contribution of $55 million to UNRWA.

The United States is UNRWA’s largest donor. The announced contribution of $55 million includes $30 million to UNRWA’s General Fund, which provides core services to Palestinian refugees across the region, and $25 million to UNRWA’s Emergency Appeal for the West Bank and Gaza. This additional funding will bring total U.S contributions to UNRWA thus far in Fiscal Year 2010 to $95 million. In 2009, the United States provided more than $267 million to UNRWA.

I tried to do some math.

The number of refugees the UNHCFR takes care of is

The latest figures available show that the number of refugees of concern to UNHCR stood at 10.4 million refugees at the beginning of 2011, down slightly from a year earlier.


A further 4.7 million registered refugees are looked after in some 60 camps in the Middle East by United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which was set up in 1949 to care for displaced Palestinians.

So, aided by IB, it seems that the US tax payer is contributing $20.20 or so to a "Palestinian refugee" where as any other type of refugee only receives $12.20 per person.

Does that sound fair?

And consider just one figure I found on page 27:-

An estimated 251,500 refugees and 2.2 million IDPs returned in 2009. This is the lowest number of refugee returns in 20 years, and signifcantly below the 604,000 refugees who returned home in 2008.

So, whereas there is a major flux of population from refugee status back to indigenous status or resettled status, the "Palestinian refugees" do neither.  They stay where they are and refuse to be resettled even though the UN stipulated that in addition to repatriation, compensation is also an alternative.

So for all those who leave nasty comments about US tax money going to Israel, have fun with this figure.


P.S.  I have been updated:

June 18, 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced today that the United States will be making an additional contribution of $60.3 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to support UNRWA’s core budget and special projects in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.

The $60.3 million contribution will provide critical services, including health, to 4.7 million Palestinian refugees. Of this contribution, $5.7 million will support nine special projects, including reconstruction and rehabilitation of schools in Jordan, Syria, and the West Bank, an afterschool program for refugee children in Lebanon, and a referral system to help refugees facing gender-based violence.

With this contribution, the U.S. will have provided more than $225 million to UNRWA in 2010, including $120 million to its General Fund, $75 million to its West Bank/Gaza emergency programs, $20 million to emergency programs in Lebanon, and $10 million for the construction of five new schools in Gaza.

The U.S. commitment to the welfare of the Palestinian people was further underscored by the President’s June 9 announcement that the United States will move forward with $400 million to increase access to clean drinking water, create jobs, build schools, and address critical housing and infrastructure needs in the West Bank and Gaza. As UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor, the U.S. recognizes the critical role UNRWA plays in assisting Palestinian refugees and maintaining regional stability and calls upon other donors to enhance their support for UNRWA.

I'll let you do the additional math.


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