It’s been a rough few months for UNRWA — the UN agency dedicated to providing care for more than five million Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, and the West Bank. And the worst may be yet to come when UNRWA’s principal donors meet in Amman in June.
According to sources close to events, the discussions may touch on the agency’s future.
Portents of bad news arrived in December, with the results of Lebanon’s first-ever census of Palestinian residents. The count showed the number of Palestinians living in Lebanon was only one third of the number on UNRWA’s official rolls — 174,422 people instead of 449,987.
The discrepancy of 272,565 people who either never existed or relocated was waved away by UNWRA spokeswoman Huda Samra, who stated that UNRWA doesn’t count anyway. “UNRWA does not have a headcount of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon,” she said. “What we have are official registration records for the number of registered Palestine refugees in Lebanon. If someone registered with UNRWA in Lebanon decided to live outside Lebanon, they don’t notify us.”