Allegations about UNRWA

05 October 2011

5 October 2011
Sir, Your piece by David Bedein (“UNRWA is an impediment to peace,” Comment & Features, October 3) makes unsubstantiated assertions about alleged political activities in UNRWA facilities.

UNRWA’s neutrality team has examined Bedein’s “evidence,” and none of the activities he ascribes to us took place in our installations or have any association with the Agency. They took place in non-UNRWA facilities for which we are not responsible.

Bedein’s organisation was recently exposed by the much-respected academic at McGill University in Canada, Prof. Rex Brynen, for having Kahanist links. To quote Brynen, “David Bedein has enormous credibility problems among serious researchers. His work contains numerous factual errors – for example, falsely associating unrelated activities with UNRWA. Bedein has also published work under the auspices of his organisation with Samuel Sokol – an ultra-right-wing activist who, in pictures he once proudly posted online, can be seen posing with weapons in front of a Kahanist... flag.”

I trust The Jerusalem Post will do its due diligence in the future before publishing material from an internationally discredited polemicist.

Chris Gunness
The writer is spokesman for UNRWA

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106  million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications & Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724