UNRWA rejects allegations of incitement as baseless

22 October 2014

Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness

East Jerusalem

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has been attacked after an Israeli film-maker released a film, “UNRWA goes to war,” alleging that UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in its schools. These false accusations have been repeated in various media outlets. 
UNRWA has conducted a detailed analysis into the film and we categorically reject the allegations it contains. As in his past discredited films, the film maker repeatedly shows non-UNRWA schools, non-UNRWA students and a non-UNRWA teacher claiming they are associated with UNRWA. The interviews with children are highly “leading” and the translations from Arabic to English are grossly misleading. Other allegations in the film relating to the conflict in Gaza have already been rejected by UNRWA repeatedly and as a matter of public record. For example we proactively condemned the placing of weapons in our schools by militants as a flagrant violation of our neutrality. 
UNRWA is committed to fostering human rights and tolerance, and teaches these values through the curriculum in its schools. UNRWA is one of the few organizations that has implemented human rights and conflict resolution training for hundreds of thousands of Palestine refugee children in the complex political environment of the Middle East for over 12 years.

Background Information: 

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

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