United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was established in 1949 to provide assistance to Palestinians displaced during the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars. Its mandate is to provide assistance to over 5 million refugees. Family members within this category can inherit that status, but a classified State Department report could tilt this whole issue on its head. Adam Kredo at the Washington Free Beacon reported that the report significantly decreases the amount of Palestinian refugees. The real number is reportedly 20,000. Former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) commissioned the report in 2015 in an effort to increase transparency. The U.S. has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to this United Nation’s project, wrote Kredo. Before the report was completed, State reportedly just decided to classify it:
As the United States moves forward with a decision to slash funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the agency responsible for providing education and support to some five million Palestinian refugees, officials on Capitol Hill and elsewhere have been pressuring the State Department to declassify a report that is believed to show the actual number of refugees is far fewer than the U.N. claims.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told the Washington Free Beacon that the State Department first classified the report under the Obama administration and still refuses to provide U.S. officials with the information despite laws mandating its release.
The report was described to the Free Beacon as a potential tipping point in the debate over UNRWA and its mission, which has come under increased criticism in Congress for what many claim is the agency's anti-Israel bias and routine promotion of pro-terrorism doctrines.
Some State Department officials have acknowledged in private meetings that there is no reason the report should remain classified, according to sources who said the over classification is part of an effort to suppress this information from Congress and the public.
While UNRWA provides support to some 5.3 million Palestinians they claim are refugees, the actual number could be closer to 20,000. This disclosure could fundamentally shift the narrative with UNRWA and lead the United States to consider cutting even more of its funding to the agency.
UNRWA has come under fire from pro-Israel activists and some lawmakers for anti-Israel bias and complicity with radical elements of Palestinian society.
In addition to reports that UNRWA is using anti-Israel content in its classrooms, it has been caught hiding Hamas rockets in its schools on at least three separate occasions.
Richard Goldberg, a former deputy chief of staff for Kirk, told the Free Beacon that the UNRWA effort was always about exposing the myth that there are millions of refugees who still require aid.
"This is about basic taxpayer oversight of an agency that gobbles up hundreds of millions of dollars ever year," said Goldberg, the author of the original amendment that required the report. "Are we funding a refugee agency or are we funding a welfare agency that nurtures a culture terrorism and violence?"
The State Department refused to comment on this story.