Mohammad is a seven-year-old boy residing in Gaza, which in June will enter its fifteenth 12 months of a land, air, and sea blockade. Just like the practically 300,000 college students in Gaza who attend colleges run by the United Nations Aid and Works Company for Palestine Refugees within the Close to East (UNRWA), he has been out and in of in-person and distant studying for the reason that outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic a 12 months in the past. He battles in opposition to electrical energy cuts every single day to obtain on-line academic supplies ready by UNRWA academics who additionally battle to get entry to electrical energy and the web. Mohammad’s proper to schooling stays inalienable even throughout a pandemic and a humanitarian disaster.
He’s simply one of many 5.7 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in the present day, lots of whom have confronted unimaginable struggling since their ancestors had been displaced from their homeland over 70 years in the past. The one-year anniversary of the worldwide lockdown marks 12 months of even larger struggling for Palestine refugees throughout the area.
As commissioner-general of UNRWA, my accountability is to make sure that Palestine refugees within the West Financial institution, together with East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, obtain the essential companies to which they’re entitled. And but, previously 12 months, UNRWA has been the topic of assaults of unprecedented ferocity and bias.
The cost most regularly levied in opposition to us is that UNRWA performs a political position. This might not be farther from the reality. UNRWA is remitted to supply direct, very important humanitarian help to Palestine refugees pending a simply and lasting resolution to their plight. That’s the company’s precedence and focus. It doesn’t interact in politics. UNRWA, like all different United Nations companies and worldwide NGOs, is sure to the 4 humanitarian rules (humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence) which are enshrined in two UN Common Meeting resolutions.
Because of this all UNRWA operations are solely pushed by the alleviation of struggling (humanity), whereas making certain that our response is impartial from navy and political goals (independence), with no discrimination (impartiality), and never taking sides in battle (neutrality). Being political is antithetical to being a humanitarian.
Strict dedication to humanitarian rules drives all our positions and selections. Each UNRWA employees member is skilled in upholding the rules of neutrality and non-discrimination and is held accountable and disciplined if present in breach of them. In any respect 711 UNRWA colleges within the area, our college students organise in class parliaments and be taught concerning the significance of human rights, equality and tolerance. UNRWA schoolteachers are always skilled on learn how to strategy critically any academic content material that’s not consistent with UN values. It’s a testomony to our 28,000 employees and a few 532,000 college students that they overwhelmingly assert these values even amid emergency and disaster, remaining impartial even throughout conflicts.
The latest assaults on UNRWA – alleging that we educate “jihad” and “terrorism” – are biased makes an attempt to pull a principled humanitarian company right into a extremely politicised sphere the place it doesn’t belong. Furthermore, they incorrectly forged UNRWA college students as susceptible or supportive to jihad and terrorism. There ought to be no tolerance for stereotyping. Firmly sticking to neutrality and non-discrimination ensures that we are able to work with all events to have the ability to help and defend Palestine refugees, whether or not by importing medicines for our 144 well being clinics that 3.1 million refugees entry annually, acquiring visas for our academics to attend conferences overseas, or making certain the sanctity of our buildings in wartime.
As the biggest UN or humanitarian company working in one of the vital advanced and longest-standing conflicts within the Center East, we all know higher than anybody else the significance of remaining impartial. The continued assaults and unfounded allegations in opposition to UNRWA are however a political device to delegitimise the company and the Palestine refugees that it protects. These assaults search to attract the main target away from the hardships Palestinian refugees face on account of their ongoing dispossession and displacement. Within the face of those political assaults, it’s the voices of essentially the most susceptible like Mohammad and his classmates, struggling to be taught within the harshest of settings, which are muted. Shaking the foundations of the company that gives assist to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the Center East constitutes one more blow to a extremely risky area.
Simply think about a Center East with out UNRWA and an unresolved battle. Within the absence of a political resolution, no UNRWA means no schooling for half 1,000,000 youngsters or no well being clinics for 3.1 million Palestine refugees a 12 months and largely, no sense of security and stability for hundreds of thousands of Palestine refugees who’re made to really feel more and more discriminated in opposition to, disenfranchised and marginalised. As humanitarians, discovering an answer to this battle doesn’t fall in our remit. However making certain that the human rights of Palestinian refugees are absolutely revered and their voices aren’t silenced, till the worldwide neighborhood finds an answer, does.
The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.