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20 Tex. Int'l L. J. 247 (1985)
Rethinking Refugee Aid: A Path to Middle East Peace

handle is hein.journals/tilj20 and id is 257 raw text is: ESSAY
Rethinking Refugee Aid:
A Path to Middle East Peace
When Palestinian refugees were murdered in the Sabra and Shatilla
refugee camps in Lebanon, the international community was again forced to
take a close look at the camps. The camps had long receded from sight,
becoming one of those aspects of the international landscape barely
acknowledged as an unfortunate and intractable consequence of a major and
ongoing conflict. But for a time at least, the Palestinian refugee camps re-
emerged as an international problem.
International concern was expressed about the lack of international
protection for the refugees. The expression of concern, however, did not
address the general problem that the camps have existed for as long as
thirty-five years-not only in Lebanon, but also in Israel, Jordan, and
Syria-and contain altogether about one-half million human beings existing
in a state of perpetual dependency.
That the camps have existed for so long under an international aid
arrangement that could not even assure essential security of life should have
resulted in some reassessment of that arrangement. However, neither the
massacres in Lebanon nor the other crises throughout the many years of
international aid to the refugees has had much impact either on basic
assumptions of international aid policy or on the related United States
foreign policy. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Near
East (UNRWA), established in December 1949, continues to be the vehicle
for providing aid to Palestinian refugees in and out of the camps. UNRWA
suffers from a continuing and ever-worsening financial crisis and from
political limitations that severely impair its humanitarian function.
Nevertheless, UNRWA continues as an unfavored stepchild of the United
Nations and as a victim of manipulations of Middle East politics.
t Professor of Law, University of San Francisco School of Law; A.B. 1964, Harvard
College; J.D. 1968, Harvard Law School.
The author wishes to thank Commissioner-General Rydbeck, Chief of Secretariat Ghanem,
and the Department Directors and Field Officers of the United Nations Relief and Works
Agency for the Near East (UNRWA) for their consistently forthright and generous provision
of information and access to UNRWA facilities.

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