Reform suggestion #3: Penalize volags* that don’t fulfill their government contract

In response to my post yesterday in which I ask for suggestions for reforming the Refugee Resettlement Program, Mark says:

Right now there is no incentive for refugee resettlement agencies to follow rules or abide by their contracts, since there are no penalties for failure to do so. As a result refugees often do not receive the few material items that are required by government contracts, or they receive broken junk. Resettlement agencies also regularly give refugees inadequate community and cultural orientation, fail to assist refugees to find work during their first few months here, and don’t even bother to answer the phone when refugees call and ask for help with something. Why should taxpayers pay for items and services that are not supplied, or are supplied in a deficient manner?

Penalties for refugee resettlement agencies caught not meeting the minimum requirements of their government contracts. No lamp – $10 penalty. Broken chair – $15 penalty. Mattresses on the floor with no bed frame – $30 penalty. Not helping refugee look for a job for first four months – $100 penalty. Believe me, if the refugee resettlement agencies’ friends in the State Department actually put some teeth in the program requirements, overnight there would be massive improvement.

* For new readers volags stands for Voluntary Agencies, it’s really a misnomer because they aren’t voluntary when they receive taxpayer funding through grants and contracts with the federal (and sometimes state) goverment.  There are ten major government contractors who in turn subcontract smaller groups to resettle refugees.

No hope for Palestinian “refugees” as long as UNRWA is in charge

Dissolve the UNRWA is the title of an article on FrontPage Magazine today by Joseph Puder.  UNRWA stands for United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and its sole responsibility is the Palestinian “refugees.” There are many reasons to put “refugees” in quotation marks; one is that alone among all agencies, UNRWA counts as refugees all descendants of those who were originally defined as refugees after the founding of Israel. That is why from the original 5-700,000 Palestinian Arab refugees there are now  many millions.

We’ve posted on UNRWA and the Palestinians many times. The agency is a hotbed of terrorism, with the great majority of its employees members of Hamas, and diligently funneling much of the aid money it receives directly to Hamas, which uses it to buy weapons. Instead of doing what refugee agencies are supposed to do — resettle refugees — it is devoted to perpetuating the refugee status, and the misery, of the Palestinians under its care, as a way to put pressure on Israel through the media, who almost always report only on the pathetic conditions of the “refugees” without giving any context or the reasons that they are in that condition.

Puder’s article discusses the dramaic contrast between the agency in charge of the post-WWII refugees and UNRWA:

Prior to the creation of UNRWA, the allies organized the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in 1943.  True to its mission, UNRRA provided relief as quickly as possible and ably rehabilitated millions of World War II refugees; then having accomplished their goals, they were disbanded.

….UNRRA was created in November 1943, at a White House conference attended by 44 nations.  Its mission was to provide economic assistance to European nations after WWII, and to repatriate and assist refugees who had come under allied control.  The U.S. government funded almost half of the UNRRA budget.  UNRRA assisted in the repatriation of millions of refugees in 1945, and managed hundreds of Displaced Persons camps in Germany, Italy, and Austria.  UNRRA provided health and welfare assistance to the DP’s as well as vocational training.    

Voluntary Jewish welfare agencies such as the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation through Training), and HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) which operated in the DP camps had as its aim normalizing the lives of the refugees and assisting them in finding permanent homes throughout the world, especially Israel, and the U.S.    

By 1947, UNRRA completed its mission as millions of Holocaust survivors and non-Jewish slave laborers from throughout Europe, who were pressed into service by the Nazi military machine, were settled.   

Then, its mission accomplished, it disbanded. I would add that many more people were resettled after WWII in population exchanges among European countries. They were not considered refugees because their destination countries were not in question.

We’ve made similar recommendations to Puder’s. Here’s what he concludes:

The U.S. and western governments have allowed UNRWA to continue perpetuating a problem that should have been resolved decades ago and have been remiss in not demanding from the Palestinian Authority (a recipient of U.S. and E.U aid) their assistance in demolishing the refugee camps and providing their people with permanent housing, jobs and health care.  

…. The time has come to dissolve UNRWA and unburden the U.S. taxpayers of this failed U.N. agency.  The UNHCR, a less politicized and far more effective organization should take over some of UNRWA’s functions, while other functions should be assigned to the Palestinian Authority (PA).  It is also high time that the U.S. and its Western allies stop coddling the PA by providing it with millions in aid without accountability (much of the aid is funneled into accounts that are used to pay terrorist gangs) and the responsibility to take care of their own unfortunate people.     

We’ve also mentioned the idea of pressuring the neighboring Arab states to take in the Palestinians, as Israel took in close to a million Jewish refugees forced out of Arab countries at Israel’s founding. But strangely, other countries don’t want the Palestinians. In fact, in 1971 Jordan kicked out thousands of Palestinians and killed thousands more. So it’s up to the UN to stop this absurd and dangerous state of affairs. I’m not holding my breath. Meanwhile, if we had a government with any sense, we would stop our aid to UNRWA. But I’m not holding my breath on that either.

Al-Shabaab’s hip-hop recruitment video, hundreds recruited

According to this article from CNN (Hat tip: Women against Sharia blog), al-Shabaab is using western style hip-hop in a recruitment film— a strategy believed to have been master-minded by the American-Somali we told you about here.    It is not clear to me if this is another video or whether CNN is just a month late in catching on to the story.  Nonetheless, here it is.

Intelligence experts say the video was probably made in recent weeks and comes on the heels of an audio message in March purportedly from Osama bin Laden. In that recording, the al Qaeda leader calls on his “Muslim brothers in Mujahid Somalia” to overthrow President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed for cooperating with the West.

Al-Shabaab is the militant Islamic wing in Somalia. It means “Youth” in Arabic.

“We’re seeing perhaps their most sophisticated attempt so far to really reach an audience of potential recruits in America, and that’s one of the things that made that video very significant,” said Ben Venzke of the IntelCenter, a Washington-based research group that tracks al Qaeda’s development and messages.

“They’re casting it in a way that’s going to speak to the youth of today,” Venzke said. “Most of the time, what we’re seeing in their videos directly parallels what the groups are doing operationally, what they are targeting, where they’re recruiting.”

It has been quiet for sometime now on the Somali missing youth story that we have followed since last November, but this CNN report has added a bit more new information in addition to the old news about the recruitment film.

Sheik Ahmed Matan knows that (that recruiters are speaking to today’s youth) firsthand. A respected member of Britain’s Somali community, Matan said he knows of hundreds of young Somali men who have returned to Somalia for terrorist training. 

“A lot of young people from here, from America, from Canada, from everywhere from Europe — they went there,” he said.

He added that these men are capable of being sent back home to conduct terrorist operations, even suicide bombings.

“It can be, they can train anytime and send them here, anytime,” Matan said.

Hundreds!  That is the first time we have heard that hundreds of former refugee youths have returned to Somalia for terrorist training.   Matan goes on to say that mosques in Great Britain must be monitored to root out recruitment activity—FAT CHANCE!  British authorities are the biggest chickens in dealing with Islam on any level.

UN revises its guidelines for Iraqi refugees

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that Iraq is safer, so it is no longer recommending that Iraqis who leave get automatic refugee status. A press release from UNHCR says:

The improved security situation in Iraq, particularly the southern governorates and Al-Anbar governorate, has allowed UNHCR to revise its guidelines on eligibility for Iraqi asylum seekers for the first time since the end of 2007. UNHCR previously advised that all Iraqis from the central and southern governorates should be considered refugees – unless they are in categories, such as those who have committed war crimes, who are specifically excluded. Now UNHCR believes the international protection needs of those originating from Al-Anbar and the southern governorates should be individually assessed.

UNHCR will continue to recommend special consideration for certain groups, such as

members of religious and ethnic minorities; public officials; Iraqis perceived as opposing armed groups or political factions; Iraqis affiliated with the multinational forces or foreign companies; certain professionals; media workers; UN and NGO workers; human rights activists; and homosexuals.

It also names particular areas in Iraq where there are still problems, and recommends refugee status for Iraqis leaving there. And UNHCR does not recommend mass returns to Iraq at this point.

The Washington Post reports on the UNHCR’s change of policy here.  And here’s an odd little thing that goes by without explanation:

Some of the 1.5 million Iraqis living outside their country, which descended into sectarianism after U.S.-led forces invaded in 2003, should now be able to return safely, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said.

One and a half million Iraqi refugees, hmm? Since I began reading about Iraqi refugees, the number has always been stated as two million. Just a couple of weeks ago I reported that the Iraqi government is compiling statistics on how many displaced Iraqis there actually are. And I wrote:

The longstanding estimate is that 2 million Iraqis have left the country. They are not counting internally displaced people, but that number has been estimated at 2.5 million. I generally hold to the rule that reality is never as bad as estimates and media reports in any area (such as environmental problems), but occasionally wartime figures turn out worse than estimated. If I had to bet, I’d place my money on the not-as-bad scenario. There are always reasons to inflate numbers and few incentives to deflate them.

And now, mysteriously, the two million number has been reduced by 25 percent. I hope somebody explains what happened. Perhaps 500,000 refugees have returned, but I don’t think so.