Photo Credit: Courtesy UN Watch
UNRWA Facebook post using Syrian girl for Gaza fundraiser

The embarrassing post—of a little Syrian refugee girl from 2014 moonlighting as a little refugee girl from Gaza—is gone from Facebook, deleted by the unscrupulous UN agency that put it there. On the other hand, if misrepresenting images were the worst crime committed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, we’d all be ecstatic.

A hat tip to UN Watch for this one. They discovered that UNRWA was using images of this sweet little girl taken in front of the ruins of a building in Syria for the organization’s global campaign to raise money for its operation in the Gaza Strip.

UN Syria report

Seen one Arab refugee seen them all? They all look the same to UNRWA boss Pierre Krahenbuhl?

In most other situations, the UN Watch scoop would have been relegated to the bloopers department – the organization in question would release an official Oops, sorry, and that would be the end of it. The reason the UNRWA faux pas feels like part of a systemic failure has to do with the disturbing nature of the agency.

Created in December 1949, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is a relief and human development agency which supports more than five million registered refugees and their descendants, who fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1948 war between Israel and seven Arab nations. UNRWA was not created on an ad hoc basis, meaning that it would be dissolved as soon as its target population is either taken care of or dies out. Instead it was designed to perpetuate the refugee problem for eternity.

How many of the five million “registered refugees” receiving a monthly stipend from UNRWA have actually experienced expulsion? It stands to reason that the vast majority of them are professional refugees, encouraged to avoid finding alternatives for their admittedly dire condition.

So that the recycled picture of a poor Syrian refugee girl has emphasized the interest of UNRWA in perpetuating rather than ending the stretched-out refugee problem in Gaza.

“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,” says the attached fundraising text, turning the unique experience of one girl into a stenciled, one size fits all poster board.

“This Ramadan, please help support children like Aya who have known nothing but conflict and hardship.”

“Children like Aya,” copied and pasted, interchangeable fundraising tools.

UN Watch on Friday demanded that UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl apologize for using this image so callously. Meanwhile, the Facebook item has been deleted – so at least they tried to cover their tracks.

Thank heaven for screenshots…


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