UNRWA fakes Gaza girl campaign with image of bombed-out Damascus

UNRWA is the UN’s Relief and Works Agency. They specifically focus on support for the more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees and their descendants who fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1948 Palestine war as well as those who fled or were expelled during and following the 1967 Six Day war.

When first established, the vision was to provide jobs on public works projects and direct relief, but over time their scope has evolved and so they also provide education, health care, and social services to the population it supports. This is all within Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, and of course the West bank. Outside of those zones UNHCR handles things.

The UNRWA Campaign

Recently UNRWA has been running an appeal seeking finds to assist them with their efforts. This has consisted of an ad campaign as follows …

The text reads …

Imagine being cut off from the world – for your whole life. That’s reality for children like Aya. The blockade of Gaza began when she was a baby, the occupation in the West Bank before her parents were born. Now she is eleven, and the blockade goes on.

Aya’s childhood memories are of conflict and hardship, walls she cannot escape, and the fear that the only home she knows, however tiny, could be gone when she returns from school.

This Ramadan, please help support children like Aya who have known nothing but conflict and hardship. Donate here: http://buff.ly/2qgsP0Y#forPalestinerefugees

One tiny flaw ..

It is fake.

The picture is not Gaza, neither is the girl from Gaza.

Here for example is the same picture on UNRWA, but in this context it is claimed to be Syria. Also here, and also here from a 2014 campaign where this same agency claimed that this same image was …

A young girl stands in the rubble of Qabr Essit, near Damascus. In 2014, UNRWA was able begin rebuilding facilities within the neighbourhood, including a school and community centre © 2014 UNRWA Photo by Taghrid Mohammad

This is not just about a fake picture, there are deeper issues with UNRWA

There is documented evidence that UNRWA has gone rogue in a deeply disturbing manner …

OTTAWA, April 9, 2017 – Teachers and other employees of the U.N.’s Palestinian relief agency, according to a new UN Watch report presented today at the Canadian Parliament, are holding rallies to support the wave of Palestinian stabbings of Israelis, posting pictures and quotes of Adolf Hitler, glorifying Hamas terrorists, and instructing students to erase Israel from the map — and the Canadian government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to take promised action and ensure perpetrators are fired.

The full complete documented report written by UN Watch is available here.

It is not just one report

If you check out the UNRWA Wikipedia page, you will discover even more disturbing things …

UNRWA has been accused of hiring known militants, perpetuating Palestinian dependency, demonizing Israel, and funneling money from Western governments to line the pockets of the Palestinian Authority and purchasing arms for terrorists…

…UNRWA is not currently capable of ensuring necessary protection for Palestinian refugees, and that host Arab states cannot use the uniqueness of Palestinian refugeehood to continue upholding discriminatory laws and policies towards Palestinian refugees. …

…UNRWA has taken very few steps to detect and eliminate terrorists from the ranks of its staff or its beneficiaries, and no steps at all to prevent members of organizations such as Hamas from joining its staff. UNRWA has no preemployment security checks and does not monitor off-time behavior to ensure compliance with the organization’s anti-terror rules. No justification exists for millions of dollars in humanitarian aid going to those who can afford to pay for UNRWA services…

What now?

The refugees registered with UNRWA need massive help. Disbanding this deeply flawed organisation is not the solution because doing so would cast those under their care adrift and leave them with nobody to turn to.

There are no easy answers here, often there never are. The only ethical way forward is to throw a spotlight upon such issues, and then work with them to bring about accountability and also reform. There are steps that can be taken that would greatly help. For example …

  • Encourage them to halt the one-sided political statements and limit itself to comments on humanitarian issues
  • Run basic employment checks to ensure that ensure the agency is not employing or providing benefits to terrorists and criminals
  • Allow the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), or some other neutral entity, to provide balanced and discrimination-free textbooks for UNRWA schools.
  • etc…

In Summary

The deliberate  re-purposing of images for the creation of fake propaganda in order to raise funds is itself a deeply disturbing discovery. It is however just a symptom of a far more fundamental issue – UNRWA is itself a deeply flawed organisation that needs to be reformed.

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