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Articles About UNRWA

German support for UNRWA

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency,is responsible for 5.7 million people in 57 refugee camps in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Over 500,000 students attend grades 1-10 in around 700 UNRWA schools.[1]

UNRWA’s annual budget consists almost entirely of aid from donor countries. In 2020, the agency had a budget of $ 1.4 billion, 58% of which was spent on education.[2] Germany is currently the largest donor to UNRWA.[3]

For some years now, UNRWA has come under public criticism, not least because of the anti-Semitic educational content and the involvement of EU-listed terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) in UNRWA events .

UNRWA uses the curriculum of the Ministry of Education of the Palestinian Authority. The contents of the curriculum, however, violate the UNESCO principles for peace education to which UNRWA is bound.

Journalist Arnon Groiss, who holds a PhD in Islamic Studies and who is the former deputy director of the Arabic-speaking section of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, analyzed the PA-school books for the 2020/21 school year.[4] The analysis revealed compelling anti-Semitic teaching content: the existence of Israel is delegitimized, the Jewish-historical connection to holy places is denied, and the Jewish people and the State of Israel are demonized.

As a UN organization, UNRWA is committed to neutrality, peace education and the pursuit of coexistence.

German support for UNRWA

This report is intended to provide insight into the German support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the controversial United Nations aid organization for the Palestinians. This documentation pays special attention to government grants to UNRWA and to projects within UNRWA that are currently ongoing or will continue until 2022 or beyond. Furthermore, UNRWA’s terrorist connections are to be examined.

UNRWA itself describes Germany as a “key partner”. Germany is currently the largest donor of UNRWA with an official contribution of 177 million euros in 2020 alone, not including several million euros that were transferred as additional support in the course of “(emergency) appeals”. Some of these special gifts are listed in this report.

Germany’s grants to UNRWA are largely made within the framework of German development cooperation by the Federal Foreign Office (AA) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as federal authorities and by the state-owned KfW banking group as local partner.

The ZFD (Civil Peace Service) is also financially supported by the BMZ and commissioned to carry out projects in UNRWA refugee camps.

Other actors listed in this report include: German academic exchange service DAAD and Islamic Relief Germany (with an active connection to Hamas), as well as other NGOs and foundations, such as the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

I          Auswärtiges Amt (AA)

In June 2020, the AA promised to make renewed payments to UNRWA and emphasized that it was committed to a reform process at UNRWA and that it was in talks with the aid organization in this regard:

“Along with other donors, the German Government is urging the United Nations and UNRWA to implement the necessary reforms in full, as UNRWA’s structures need to be efficient and effective both internally and externally in order to provide the best possible support in all of the five areas it covers.”[5]

In November 2020, the AA announced that Germany had provided UNRWA with “20 million euros for emergency aid in the context of the corona pandemic”. This sum was paid in addition to the committed EUR 177 million in 2020. Heiko Maas also promised a further 2 million euros in support in the wake of the corona pandemic.[6]

The new General Commissioner of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, negotiated the further strategic approach and the partnership between UNRWA and the German Federal Government during his trip to Germany at the beginning of October 2020. Meetings took place with Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the Foreign Office and the BMZ.[7]

On April 7th, 2021, the AA published a statement by Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on the resumption of payments to UNRWA by the USA, which had previously stopped its funding. At the same time, it became known that in 2020 around 180 million euros were paid to UNRWA from funds from the Federal Foreign Office and the BMZ, in particular to support the education and health sectors.[8]

On May 28, 2021, the AA announced in a press release that a further 15 million euros would be paid, a large part of which should flow into the Gaza Strip. According to this announcement, the Gaza Strip is already being supported with a total of 50 million euros this year.[9] [10]

On July 13th 2021, the German representative office in Ramallah published a report about additional “humanitarian support for the Gaza Strip” of over 15 million euros, which were earmarked for the “reconstruction of Gaza”.[11]

II         BMZ   (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche

Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung)

The BMZ sees itself as a stability-creating factor in the region. For example, it says on the Ministry’s website:

“As part of Germany’s commitment, development cooperation aims to contribute to a peace solution in the Middle East. The aim of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is on the one hand to create better living conditions and comprehensive development prospects for the people living in the Palestinian territories. In particular, the population in Gaza and East Jerusalem should be supported. On the other hand, the development cooperation aims to create the basis for building a future Palestinian state with efficient institutions. Germany regards its commitment to stability and prospects in the Palestinian Territories as an expression of its special historical responsibility for the security of  .”[12] 

According to the BMZ, German-Palestinian government negotiations take place every year.

However, there has been no transparency about these meetings since 2019.

This year Germany made “56.2 million euros available for bilateral cooperation”, not including support and funding for projects carried out by NGOs and the sums of money given to UNRWA. [13]

The BMZ is the client for:

– GIZ, which also carries out projects at UNRWA through the ZFD;

– KfW, which pays out funds to UNRWA and is involved in UNRWA projects.

III        KfW    (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau – Bank aus                                                                                    Verantwortung/Staatseigene Bankengruppe)

Germany is a partner of the REPAC program (regional program to improve living conditions in the Palestinian refugee camps), which has existed since 2012 and which has been financed by Germany through KfW since then. KfW serves as the leading local partner of UNRWA in Jordan and has an office in Amman.[14]

On behalf of the BMZ, KfW is involved in projects that support employment promotion and educational offers as well as water supply and community development in the Palestinian territories, including the infrastructure in the refugee camps.[15]

On July 15, 2020, the BMZ made a payment of 15 million euros through KfW for health and educational services in Jordan and Lebanon. This payment followed a corresponding agreement between Germany and UNRWA on June 29, 2020.[16]

On September 17, 2020, UNRWA signed a payment agreement worth 53 million euros with the Federal Republic of Germany through KfW as a local partner. This agreement is intended, inter alia, to strengthen education and health services in Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.[17]

A statement about this donation can be read in Arabic on the website of the German representative office in Ramallah. [18]

According to the statement, there is an increase in the financial contribution to UNRWA (or money that is paid in addition to the amount that was promised) – approved at the donors’ conference in the summer.

Furthermore, refugee camps in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip are supported by financial means and active projects by KfW.

By directly supporting UNRWA’s education and health programme, KfW is helping to ensure adequate schooling and health care in the region.“, it says on the KfW website.[19]

There is information on projects in Jordan from 2018 and new financial commitments as well as project commitments for 2021, in which 7 million euros are allocated to Jordan.[20]

On the basis of a resolution by the German Bundestag, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is also funding a project appraisal for the “improvement of water supply and wastewater disposal. UNRWA Environmental Health and WASH Infrastructure in the Gaza Strip ”. The project notification took place on July 22nd, 2021. The financing is ensured by KfW.[21]

  1. GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit)

GIZ, a partner organization of UNRWA for many years [22], publishes on its website the following projects and measures related to UNRWA that are currently being carried out.

The BMZ is specified as the client for all three projects.

  1. Social participation for people in constant refugee and crisis contact[23]

November 2018 – October 2021

Project description: Strengthening the influence of Palestinian refugees on their living conditions (PART)

GIZ published a detailed project description on this.[24]

  1. Strengthening the resilience of the people of the Gaza Strip[25]

2018 – 2023

No political partners. Working with a wide range of local and international actors, including UNRWA, the Palestinian Community Development and Loan Fund (MDLF), academic institutions and a number of international and local NGOs.

Addendum:

During the preparation of this report in the week from 08.-13.08.2021, the

GIZ deleted this message from its website.

However, it can be found in the web archive.[26]

  1. Strengthening social cohesion and preventing violence through cultural and sporting activities for Palestinian refugees[27]

2014 – 2022

The implementing actor is the Civil Peace Service (ZFD), which works with partner organizations that are not listed here, on cultural education offers in UNRWA camps.

–            You can also find the project on the GIZ website under:

“Perspectives for Refugees and Migrants. Strengthening the receiving regions”

and read about the implementation of corresponding aid in 2015.

As part of this project, GIZ worked “on behalf of BMZ with the United Nations Aid Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to expand psychosocial care for refugees. For this purpose, social workers and nurses as well as the employees of the local civil society organizations are trained.”

It is unclear whether this support is currently still active.[28]

  • The UNRWA published a report on the project on February 4th, 2021

„Education at risk: Sustainable energy education in Gaza“,
which is carried out with partners such as GIZ, for instance.[29]

  1. ZFD (Ziviler Friedensdienst)

The ZFD is an important player in the implementation of projects within the framework of German development aid and is commissioned and subsidized directly by federal authorities.

As the GIZ documents in the directory of active aid for the UNRWA, the CPS is currently carrying out a project in the refugee camps.[30]

GIZ has published an article on its website entitled “Palestine: Music Against Walls”, which a so-called CPS peace worker wrote about her mission.[31]

The project “With a valve to the goal: Young people in refugee camps learn alternatives to hatred and violence” has been active since 2014 and will run until 2022.

In this project, the ZDF tries, according to its own statements, “[] together with its civil society partners […] to reach and intercept young Palestinians at risk”.[32]

Which civil society partners these are is not further listed.

The project will be carried out in East Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the UNRWA camps

Balata and Shuafat (Palestinian Child Center).

Yossi Kuperwasser clearly shows in his report from September 22nd, 2020, “How Denmark, Sweden, the U.N., and the EU Got Suckered Into Funding a Terror Organization”, that members of the terrorist organization PFLP exert an influence on the Deishe Camp near Bethlehem.[33]

The Catholic human rights organization Society of St. Yves is also active in the Palestinian Child Center [34],which in turn is part of the Displacement Work Group, an initiative of the Palestinian non-governmental organization BADIL.

In this context, in addition to cooperation with UNRWA and the German Dev. Center, there is also cooperation with the NGOs Addameer, Al Haq, BADIL, PCBS and PCHR. They all have ties to the terrorist PFLP.

The Bedein Center for Near East Policy Research already featured in the documentary “UNRWA in Jerusalem. Anatomy of Chaos ”, which states that terrorist organizations are firmly anchored in the Palestinian Child Center and its activities.[35]

  1. Gerda Henkel Stiftung (GHS)

The Gerda Henkel Foundation has, in its directory of funded projects, a project with the title: “Improving Water, Sanitation and Energy Supply at an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip, Palestine“. It is supported by research grants at the Ramallah location.[36]

The GHS research project “Palestinian Refugees’ Strategies of Conflict Resolution: Reconciling Citizenship Rights and Return” is documented for 2013 without any information on a possible continuation.

In this project, scientists dealt with the right of return of Palestinian refugees. They conducted interviews with refugees based on classic social anthropological methods and wanted to do so by “Exploring the refugees’ political approaches, proposals and narratives themselves, referring in particular to physical and symbolic forms of return, transnational practices and civic strategies in the host countries.“[37] 

VII.     DAAD in cooperation with other colleges and universities

The DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), carried out the project in cooperation with the An-Najah National University, the Magdeburg / Stendal University of Applied Sciences, the Al Balqa Applied University and the Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences „Social work with refugees in Germany, Jordan and Palestine. Services Offered to Women by NGOs and UNRWA in Refugee Camps in Nablus District”.

An excerpt from the project report from July 2019: „To accommodate the specific, if not the uniqueness, of the Palestinian refugees’ problem, we suggested to have “social work with refugees”, rather than “integration of refugees” as the title of the project. This change also was intended to link with a department program that includes courses related to refuge theory and social practice with refugees.” [38]

At this point it becomes clear what interest the supporting actors are pursuing:

Fighting symptoms instead of eliminating the cause.

VIII.    Islamic Relief Deutschland

Islamic Relief Germany was involved in UNRWA projects in 2019.

On November 19, 2019, a meeting took place between the UNRWA Head of Partnerships, Mehmet Köse, and Nuri Köseli from Islamic Relief Germany in Cologne.

According to a communication, projects for medical care were funded:

“[A] focus is on the psychosocial health of schoolchildren in the fragile context of Gaza. Children and their families in particular should strengthen their psychosocial coping mechanisms through trained UNRWA advisors and awareness-raising measures.” [39]

On May 19, 2021, ZEIT published the article “No tax money for anti-Semites!” By Remko Leemhuis (Director of the AJC Berlin). Leemhuis names the connections between organizations which are close to groups that are listed internationally as terrorist organizations, e. B. Hamas. These in turn are also official interlocutors for politics.

Islamic Relief Germany is observed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and classified as a group with direct links to terrorist organizations. In addition, Remko Leemhuis:

„Another terrorist supporter who enjoys an irritating tolerance in this country is the supposedly purely humanitarian aid organization Islamic Relief Germany. In response to a small question from the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag at the end of last year, the federal government confirmed that Islamic Relief had “significant personal connections” to the Muslim Brotherhood. The federal government attests the same thing to the parent organization Islamic Relief Worldwide. The Israeli domestic intelligence service Shin Bet believes that Islamic Relief Worldwide, based in Birmingham, is part of Hamas’ funding network.“ [40]

The Leemhuis article is about a small request from the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag about Islamic Relief Germany, its connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas and to funding from the federal government and the funds and orders that the Federal Foreign Office has placed.

Question 16 of this request deals with the connection between Islamic Relief Germany and UNRWA:

What knowledge does the Federal Government have about personal and structural networks between “Islamic Relief Deutschland e. V.” or “Islamic Relief Worldwide” and “United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East“?[41]

The Federal Government replied to this on November 13, 2020:

“As far as the Federal Government is aware, only one consultant working for UNRWA had contact with Islamic Relief Germany as part of public relations work.“[42]


[1] https://www.unrwa.org/what-we-do/education

[2] https://www.unrwa.org/how-you-can-help/how-we-spend-funds

[3] https://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/2020_overall_donor_ranking.pdf

[4] https://israelbehindthenews.com/2021/05/27/textbooks-used-in-unrwa-schools/

[5] https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/aussenpolitik/themen/humanitaerehilfe/unrwa-pledging-conference/2356700

[6] https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/aussenpolitik/themen/humanitaerehilfe/unrwa-gaza-strip/2405914

[7] https://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/unrwa-commissioner-general-begins-european-mission-germany

[8] https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/newsroom/news/maas-unrwa/2452932

[9] https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/newsroom/news/-/2463554

[10]Further reports on the support of UNRWA by the Federal Foreign Office:

https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/search?search=unrwa

[11] https://ramallah.diplo.de/ps-de/aktuelles/-/2471030

[12] https://www.bmz.de/de/laender/palaestinensische-gebiete

[13] ibid.

[14] https://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/videos/germany-unrwa-partnership-impact-jordan-and-lebanon-forpalestinerefugees

Short version of the video in English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRUdZjuNLXY&ab_channel=unrwa

[15] https://www.kfw-entwicklungsbank.de/International-financing/KfW-Development-Bank/Local-presence/North-Africa-and-Middle-East/Palestinian-Territories/

[16] https://reliefweb.int/report/jordan/germany-contributes-eur-15-million-support-unrwa-basic-services-lebanon-and-jordan

[17] https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/germany-invests-unrwa-education-health-cash-work-services-and

[18] https://ramallah.diplo.de/ps-ar/aktuelles/-/2385670

[19] https://www.kfw-entwicklungsbank.de/Internationale-Finanzierung/KfW-Entwicklungsbank/Weltweite-Pr%C3%A4senz/Nordafrika-und-Nahost/Pal%C3%A4stinensische-Gebiete/

[20] https://www.kfw.de/microsites/Microsite/transparenz.kfw.de/#/start

https://www.kfw.de/microsites/Microsite/transparenz.kfw.de/#/region/NAH

[21]  https://www.kfw.de/microsites/Microsite/transparenz.kfw.de/#/start

https://www.kfw.de/microsites/Microsite/transparenz.kfw.de/#/region/NAH

[22] https://www.gtai.de/gtai-de/trade/entwicklungsprojekte/palaestinensische-gebiete/verbesserung-der-wasserver-und-abwasserentsorgung-669888

[23]  https://www.facebook.com/gizprofile/posts/2743649529029223?comment_id=2758129804247862

[24] https://www.giz.de/en/worldwide/78139.html

[25] https://www.giz.de/en/downloads/FS%20PART_Pterr.pdf

[26] https://web.archive.org/web/20210628125415/https://www.giz.de/en/worldwide/96121.html

[27] https://www.giz.de/en/worldwide/41079.html

[28] https://www.giz.de/en/workingwithgiz/36545.html

[29] https://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/features/education-risk-sustainable-energy-education-gaza

[30] See under III. in this report.

[31] https://www.giz.de/entwicklungsdienst/en/html/60050.html

[32] https://www.ziviler-friedensdienst.org/de/projekt/mit-ventil-zum-ziel-jugendliche-gefluechtetenlagern-lernen-alternativen-zu-hass-und-gewalt

[33] https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/israel-middle-east/articles/pflp-funding-eu-un?fbclid=IwAR1-ozSNObrfzQnklppUeD4enOvrcaK0iH3kvjdn3usbiJBNMa9qtWO7Wjk

[34] https://www.facebook.com/pcc2018/photos/a.306287889531304/1784349081725170/

[35] https://vimeo.com/314112375

[36] https://www.gerda-henkel-stiftung.de/en/projects

[37] https://www.gerda-henkel-stiftung.de/palestinian-refugees-strategies-of-conflict-resolution-reconciling-citizenship-rights-and-return?page_id=80518#80518

[38] https://www.h2.de/fileadmin/user_upload/Fachbereiche/SGW/Projekte/Report_-_An-Najah_Applied_University.pdf, page 4

[39] https://www.islamicrelief.de/nachrichten/artikel/unterstuetzung-von-ngos-und-zivilgesellschaft-fuer-unrwa/

[40] https://www.zeit.de/2021/21/terrorismus-finanzierung-hamas-muslimbruederschaft-antisemitismus

[41] https://dserver.bundestag.de/btd/19/230/1923023.pdf

[42] https://dserver.bundestag.de/btd/19/242/1924269.pdf

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