Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Exclusive - Palestinians in Lebanon View US Cut of UNRWA Funding as Attempt to End Their Cause

Exclusive - Palestinians in Lebanon View US Cut of UNRWA Funding as Attempt to End Their Cause

Tuesday, 11 September, 2018 - 08:30
Palestinian students receive new studying books during the first day of the school year, at an UNRWA school, in Beirut, Lebanon, September 3, 2018. (AP)
Beirut - Sanaa el-Jack
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon interpret the US announcement that it was cutting its funding to UNRWA as an end to their cause and an attempt to leave them to an unknown fate.

Talks about resettlement plans in exchange for the implementation of the so-called “Deal of the Century” do not attract them, because “our experience in Lebanon does not allow us to dream of any decent life,” according to Anwar, from the Burj Barajneh camp in Beirut’s southern suburbs.

“When we hear of UNRWA’s funding being stopped, we are terrified. How will we get medical care and how will we teach our children?” says Rayan, a teacher and sociologist who works for a school at the Palestinian Al-Ikhwa association in the camp. “Our tragedy will not end with a Lebanese or Arab nationality. We demand that the solution be through a European nationality.”

On the right of return, Rayan said: “The right of return is the talk of our ancestors. I don’t want this illusion. I want a promising future for me and my children.”

US President Donald Trump’s decision to halt aid to UNRWA pushed Lebanon’s Speaker Nabih Berri to demand the Arab League to make an urgent decision on the matter. Foreign Minister in the caretaker government Jebran Bassil also urged Arab countries to compensate for the lack of US funding.

MP Ayoub Hmayed, member of Berri’s parliamentary bloc, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The US administration wants to eliminate the Palestinian cause through successive steps that began with its relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem, the declaration of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and today, the decision to stop funding UNRWA.”

He continued: “There are a series of events leading up to the ‘Deal of the Century’. We cannot forget the systematic dispersal of the Palestinians in the large camps in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon... There is a path to be completed, and with the decision on UNRWA, the repercussions on the Lebanese society will grow.”

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, the head of the Palestinian Ikhwa association for cultural and social work, Hassan Mustafa, said: “UNRWA, which was established in wake of the Nakba of 1948, is witness to the reality of the people in the camps in Lebanon.

“Any attempt to abolish it and annex the Palestinians to another international institution will lead us to the final stage in the project of eliminating the Palestinian cause and revoking the right of return.”

Editor Picks