Reframing the Middle Eastern and Palestinian Refugee Crises

editor Friday 16 March 2018 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share by email Printer friendly

By Dr. Alex Joffe and Dr. Asaf Romirowsky.. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: There are two Middle Eastern refugee crises currently vying for resources and attention. One is nominally focused on Syria but in fact extends from Libya to Afghanistan. The other crisis is Palestinian and has supposedly been going on since 1948. A closer look at the causes of these crises shows the former to be primarily the result of the collapsing Arab state system and the rise of militant Islam, while the latter cannot be considered a crisis at all. [Photo top right: RAFAH REFUGEE CAMP, GAZA STRIP – MAY 15: Palestinian refugee Mohamad Mahmoud AL-arja 80 year from Rafah refugee camp, shows off the keys of his house in Beer AI-saba, which is now located in Israel, during rally 15 May 2007. In Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza strip Palestinians Commemorate May 15 as Nakba Day or Catastrophe Day, to mark the 59th anniversary of the al-Nakba the day the Israeli state was created in 1948. (Photo by STR Getty Images)]. The history of international responses to wartime refugee crises over the past century demonstrates how anomalous the Palestinian situation is, particularly with regard to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA – a distinctly unique agency in the annals of international organizations. It is the only “relief” effort aimed at a single population; it is seemingly permanent, if not eternal; and its mission is ever growing. It is the world’s only internationally funded “relief” organization that is run not only for but by its clients.

As the de facto health, education and welfare ministry, UNRWA both competes with and complements the Palestinian Authority (PA), thus relieving the PA from assuming responsibilities for crucial fields of activity that are the routinely exercised by normal, even aspiring states. And UNRWA’s existence is fundamental as a symbol within Palestinian society, as a pivot around which key identity concepts revolve, the ideas of Palestinian victimhood and “refugee-ness,” and (the supposed) international responsibility for their fate. Read the full story and download the pdf.

From:
https://besacenter.org/mideast-security-and-policy-studies/palestinian-refugee-crises/

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