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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shocka: Turkey gives Gaza almost nothing in aid

When it come to providing aid to Gaza, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan talks the talk, but doesn't even start to walk the walk.
From the fury with which Turkey’s leaders are demanding carte blanche access for aid to Gaza, you might suppose the Turkish government had exhausted every available route for pouring its own bounty into the Palestinian enclave. Think again. While Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan whips up passions about Israel stopping a blockade-busting “aid” flotilla, his own government has racked up a record as one of the cheapskates of Gaza relief.

United Nations records show that if Gaza has been lean on aid from Turkey in recent years, it’s not because Turkish relief donations have been blocked by the Israelis. It’s because Turkey, relative to its size as a rising economic power, and despite its claims of regional leadership, has been surprisingly stingy about sending aid via the already existing channels of the UN. Apparently, Turkey‘s leaders are glad to enlist the U.N. full force for punishing Israel and stripping Israel’s defenses against the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists who control neighboring Gaza. But the Turks are far less interested in the U.N. when it comes to handing over Turkish goods and cash for U.N. aid efforts.

The chief U.N. agency in Gaza is the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA. Love or hate it–and I am no fan–UNRWA, according to its website, is “the main provider of basic services–education, health, relief and social services–to 4.7 million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East.” Many of those Palestinians live in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank. But Gaza is the core of this operation. UNRWA‘s headquarters are in Gaza, where 1.1 million Palestinians–the bulk of Gaza’s population–are registered on UNRWA’s refugee rolls and eligible for its services.

UNRWA gets 98% of its funding from voluntary donations, mostly from U.N. member states. Turkey looks like a great candidate to be a big donor. In 2008 Turkey’s economy was ranked by the World Bank as the 17th largest on the planet. Given the Turkish government’s professed interest in the welfare of Palestinians, you might suppose that Turkey would be among the top 10 state donors to UNRWA? Or at least the top 20?

Turkey doesn’t even make the cut.
Read it all. And then make Claudia Rosett's article go viral. I found it by accident while looking for statistics on UNRWA donations. But this is the sort of thing that shows the Turks up as the hypocrites they are.


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