tv Inside Story LINKTV January 21, 2022 5:30am-6:01am PST
find the coral. ♪ emily: hello, you are watching al jazeera. the u.s. president predicts that russia will invade ukraine. he has warned his counterpart vladimir putin there will be costly sanctions for his actions. joe biden went on to say he believes the russian leader is not keen for a full-blown war. >> do i think he will test the west, tested the united states and nato as significantly as he can? yes, i think he will, but i
think he will pay a serious and dear price for it. i think he will regret having done it. emily: the u.s. secretary of state is in ukraine to reaffirm america's support. antony blinken warned that russia could invade at short notice. he will meet russian foreign minister sergei lavrov friday. the first international relief flights are en route to tonga. the eruption and a tsunami destroyed homes and contaminated water supplies. the u.s. will start distributing 400 million masks for free across the country next week. health experts say they are the most protective face covering against the omicron variant. the white house has been facing criticism for shortages of high-grade masks.
the u.s. has been reporting an average of 800,000 new cases every day over the past week. britain's prime minister has again told parliament he want be resigning over the so-called party gate scandal. boris johnson urged everyone to wait for the outcome of an inquiry. a palestinian family living in occupied east jerusalem has lost their fight to stop israeli police demolishing their home. hundreds of other palestinians say they are being forcibly evicted. those are the headlines. the news continues here on al jazeera. ♪
x it is a lifeline for millions of palestinian refugees. anwar faces collapse without more funding. what happens if nations do not come through, and has it been stretched too thin? this is inside story. hello and welcome to the program. i am rob matheson. nearly 6 million people rely on anna mark, the united nations relief organization for palestinians in the near east. it provides food aid, health care and other essential services in jordan, lebanon, syria and the occupied palestinian territories.
fulfilling that mandate requires a huge amount of money. anwar has launched an appeal for 1.6 billion dollars this year. the agency has struggled to raise enough donations in the past. the shortfall could lead to its collapse. first, this report in lebanon, home to half a million palestinian refugees. >> they have been refugees twice in the past. these palestinians are homeless. they are struggling to survive. the financial support they were receiving from the united nations relief and works agency has been cut because it is facing a budget crisis. they use >> to give us $100 for rent. now it is $25.
we cannot afford anything. >> that is where they have been in the east. they say they will not leave until a solution is found to their plight. >> unrwa is supposed to be our lifeline, but they are not giving us our basic needs. we cannot go back to syria. many of us are wanted by authorities, and our homes are destroyed. x even before palestinians from syria began arriving, unrwa was underfunded. it was having difficulties meeting the demands of those lebanon whose vulnerability worsened in recent months. palestinian refugees were living in poverty before lebanon's economic collapse. many say surviving is nearly impossible, and they are not the only ones. the entire country, which hosts
hundreds of thousands of refugees, is being affected by the meltdown. unrwa says it needs over $200 million to continue operations and meet the growing and basic needs. >> unrwa has been living on a month by month basis. it's not just the additional emergency help. emily: palestinians have largely been marginalized with limited rights and access to services and job opportunities. >> i am a teenager, and i have lots of dreams and hopes, but because of what we are suffering in lebanon, i always stress about my future. >> palestinians say they are trapped, unable to return to their homeland or leave to go elsewhere. nearly 80% live in poverty. the u.s. estimates 162,000 people depend on aid. al jazeera, beirut.
♪ rob: let's bring in our guests. we have a spokesperson at the united nations relief and works agency for palestinian refugees in the near east. in doha, we have the head of policy analysis at the arab center for research and policy studies. in london, a lecturer and interdisciplinary race, gender and postcolonial studies at university of college london appeared if the money doesn't come in, how bad could this get? >> it would be very, very bad. half a million girls and boys would not be able to go to school. if the money does not come in, unrwa, which is irreplaceable in a region that is volatile, might not be able to run. who will fill that vacuum? where will palestinian refugees go? who will they turn to for these
basic health, education and social services? rob: what do you think will be the impact on countries hosting palestinian refugees if the funding begins to dry up or ends altogether? >> it is important to realize that when we are speaking about refugee presence in the host country, we are not only talking about significant palestinian refugee populations. many of these countries are also hosting really large-scale syrian populations, which include twice over the population of refugees from syria. we are talking about a huge impact socially, economically and politically. unrwa has been a crucial pillar of operations in these countries for decades now, and we ignore that at our peril. rob: we heard in our report from our correspondent in beirut a moment ago that one palestinian
refugee was saying that because of the funding cuts, the refugees he knew had been forced onto the streets. one would imagine that the countries these refugees are in will not take kindly to people being forced onto the streets of their cities. >> indeed. the main problem we are facing here is unrwa is dependent on aid from foreign governments, and that makes it vulnerable to political pressure from these governments. we all know in 2018 president trump, the aide for unrwa, we know they provide 80% of the budget for that international organization. under the title reform, they deprived millions of palestinians from their status
of refugees. united states wanted palestinians to not have status as refugees for new generations, which would prevent millions of palestinians from claiming rights to their land in palestine or compensation. we know certain countries are no longer providing aid to unrwa for political reasons. i think unrwa will always be facing this style, as -- this dilemma as long as it doesn't find other venues to get the aide from -- aid form. rob: i think you wanted to come in at the start of that. >> i wanted to come in on about
unrwa being a crucial pillar of operations in the region. it is also a crucial pillar of stability, the reliability of the services, the fact that a palestinian refugee committee -- community is among the most vulnerable. when they know their children can go to school, they can get their health care, this is one less source of worry. unrwa has contributed to that sense of safety and security and regional bull -- regional stability. it is important to mention the generosity of countries hosting large numbers of refugees. knowing all the countries with refugees are crisis countries
where their own nationals are facing hardship -- but having said that, unrwa is vulnerable to the politics of its donors, and what we find mind-boggling is almost every country in the world votes for the continuation of unrwa. there is a political recognition that it is irreplaceable, it is a beacon of stability. it plays a huge role for the human development in the region. when it comes to paying, these countries will not necessarily pay or fund unrwa. unrwa faces political support without the matching resources. rob: tell me what you think. >> i think this is an important
point that too often gets missed. we are not talking about a one-off situation. we are talking about an acute crisis that is born of the set up whereby the u.n. general assembly issues unrwa with a mandate. it renews that mandate. the vast majority of u.n. general assembly member states support the renewal, but as an organization, unrwa is dependent on donations. there is a gap between the funds required in order to do those things. this is a fundamental problem. rob: this was a point you touched on earlier. giving cash to organizations like unrwa might be seen as a
moral obligation, but governments are facing problems with covid, their own economies, natural disasters, is it naive to think that they are going to be willing to pay anything more than lip service to something like unrwa and not come up with the cash? if they don't, what is the alternative? >> what i was trying to say was because unrwa is vulnerable to political pressure, especially the donors, the people paying the heaviest price are the refugees. the situations in these countries are very miserable. at the end of the day, you cannot prevent those refugees from getting resources and
services, which is provided by unrwa. it provides life-saving services for the refugees. at the end of the day, we have some sort of blowback by cutting this aid. i don't think covid or any other economic pressure that donors might be suffering from right now should be used as an excuse for governments to stop aiding unrwa. it is the international community upon responsibility to a certain degree. i believe these factors are not
genuine, in my opinion. as i said, political factors are the main drivers for the donors to put pressure on unrwa and make demands. take, for example, some gulf countries. some decided to cut aid to unrwa in 2020 after signing the normalization deal, after having come under huge pressure from the israelis. they cut their aid without any justification, more than $50 million to $1 million last year. i believe the issue has nothing to do with covid, and it has nothing to do with other economic pressure, but mainly because of demands these countries are trying to impose upon unrwa.
rob: given that funding is a constant problem for unrwa and other organizations like it, is there a point at which point they could be accused of raising expectations too high if they know they are not going to get the funding that they so clearly want to get and clearly believe that they should be getting? is it necessary for them to try to rein in the expectations? there is a sense that people might see organizations like unrwa as constantly failing because they do not have the money, rather than the focus being on the work they are able to achieve. >> it is both of them. on the one hand, unrwa is not getting the money because they are failing to get the necessary money. when the international community decides that as long as there is
no fair and lasting solution that includes palestinian refugees, it's the go to agency for their well-being and the protection of their rights and assistance. then the donors failed to come up with that money. it is only a limited number of donors who support unrwa, and then they end up feeling lonely. then the onus is on the donors. there is only so much unrwa can do in cutting costs, reducing its budget. the humanitarian needs and hardship of the palestinian refugees in all areas keep increasing. having said mentioned about the relations between political positions and funding. most of our big and regular and
long-term donors areisrael, andt prevent them from the funding unrwa. they believe in the fundamental humanitarian role that unrwa plays, and they believe in their responsibility as u.n. member states. there is no political solution. what we are telling countries who use to support unrwa and stopped is that there is not necessarily a contradiction between your foreign policy and internal relations towards israel and supporting a community that is amongst the most vulnerable and who is entitled to services by virtue of the u.n. general assembly mandate. there is no contradiction. a country can be in close ties with israel and support the u.n.
general. rob: is there any structure that might be able to shoulder some of the burden that unrwa has been tasked with? clearly it is an enormous task. the one that springs to mind is unhcr. for those of us who do not understand the structure, there seems to be a natural dovetail that they could take some of the burden away. why isn't that happening? >> unhcr and unrwa operate under different mandates, different mandate structures. it is worth briefly outlining the discrepancy. since 2018 when the trump administration defunded unrwa, we have heard continuous misinformation about the difference between unhcr and
unrwa. there's been a lot of false information propagated by the trump administration and others claiming that unrwa gives palestinian refugees and unfair advantage. this is far from being the case. if anything, unhcr has a broader mandate then unrwa -- than unrwa. the other thing that is worth noting is unrwa is mandated to provide services to register the palestine refugees in certain geographical areas, jordan, the west bank, and gaza, but there are refugees outside of those places, particularly refugees from syria who are seeking sanctuary. when that entitled to support from unhcr instead. the picture is more complex and
involves a lot more behind the scenes cooperation that is often -- than is often made out. rob: we've heard that some refugees have been camping outside of the headquarters of unrwa in beirut to complain about some of the circumstances they were left in and demanding something should change. it seems from what you have all been saying that none of this appears to be of unrwa's making. the refugees do not seem to have any action they can take other than going to the people who have been giving them the cash. >> you are absolutely right. it is those countries who've reduced their aid to unrwa and denying peoples rights to education, health care and other social services. make no mistake about this.
we should always look into the greater picture. when we leave people hopeless and without the basic needs, you cannot blame them at the end of the day for, let's say, taking different sorts of actions in order to provide for their families and to protect their families. this part of the world, i am talking about the lavon generally, syria, and of course, jordan is included. these are countries that are sickened by a crisis environment, political security. some of them are already having civil wars. the palestinians are in the middle of all of these crises in the region. in syria, as your guests have mentioned, the palestinians were
already refugees, and they were forced once again to leave the refugee camps they were living in. i believe there is the responsibility of the international community to provide unrwa with all of the means to keep those people at least with the minimum and basic needs they need in countries that are suffering different circumstances. rob: you wanted to come in on that? >> i wanted to come in with a few figures that illustrate the hardships. 73% of the palestinian refugees in lebanon are poor. 82% of the palestinian refugees inside of syria live on less than two dollars per day. 58% of palestinian refugee families in lebanon say that
they eat one meal a day or less to be able to feel their children. -- feed their children. it has been hardship all along. for palestinian refugees who receive cash assistance, the poorest receive between $18 and $25 per month. taking that away from them leaves them completely desperate and pushes them towards other coping mechanisms. we've seen concerning trends in jordan. we've seen the very dangerous migration routes of that palestine refugees and other refugees from the region take. we've seen child labor. these are all very negative coping mechanisms that can only get worse if an agency that provides state-like services like unrwa cannot provide these services. we are talking about an agency that provides services the same
way a small or midsize country in europe provides. denmark, 5.8 million people, the population. unrw, 5.8 million refugees in the region. we are talking about a cause ice state that is -- quasi-state that is handicapped. rob: we have less than a minute to go. briefly, if you could, if unrwa 's funding is restricted, as it appears to be, do you think people who are in the refugee camps that unrwa currently runs get to a point where they are forced, feel forced to leave those camps and move further through the countries they are in or further into other countries? are we likely to see the mass movement of people that we've seen in previous years, admittedly driven by war, if unrwa starts to, if for want of
a better word, employee echo >> it has already happened. >>the movement you referred to of movement towards europe has included palestinian refugees. it is estimated more than 60,000 palestinian refugees fleeing the syrian war tried to reach europe, usually by dangerous routes. it is something we've already seen happening, and it highlights another inconsistency in the policies of european states who claim that they want to stop what they referred to as a migraine crisis, but then are unwilling to take any action in support of unrwa. rob: i want to say thanks to all of our guests. thanks to you for watching the. you can see the program again any night by visiting our website, and for further discussion, go to our facebook page.
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