- The Washington Times - Monday, July 8, 2002

UNRWA to rebuild Jenin
Rebuilding the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank will cost at least $30 million and won't get under way until autumn at the earliest, according to the U.N. agency that will oversee the reconstruction.
Nearly three months after Israeli tanks withdrew from the heavily populated camp, unexploded ordnance continues to turn up in the rubble, making primitive cleanup efforts dangerous, according to Peter Hansen, who heads the U.N. agency that tends to Palestinian refugees.
With little heavy machinery or technical assistance from foreign sources, residents of Jenin and relief workers are still pawing through the rubble with buckets and shovels, local journalists said. Dump trucks and some earthmovers are on the scene, but they are not able to work with the kind of efficiency seen during the World Trade Center cleanup.
"We have nearly cleared the place of unexploded ordnance," said Mr. Hansen, the commissioner general of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). He said he was "very disappointed" that the Israeli government had not responded to requests for help removing the explosives its military forces had left behind.
After eight weeks, he said, UNRWA dug a concrete sarcophagus 15 feet deep to store the dangerous remains.
The Israeli military invaded Jenin on April 2, firing rockets and tearing down homes in an effort to locate and destroy militant safe houses and labs. At least 54 Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers died in the eight-day conflict.
Mr. Hansen, who is based in Gaza, said during a visit to Washington and the United Nationsthat it would take until autumn to clear the debris and that new housing will not be built before winter.
The United Arab Emirates has pledged most of the $30 million to rebuild Jenin, including dwellings and infrastructure for people affected by the incursion.
A new $55 million UNRWA emergency appeal for the West Bank includes $15 million to $20 million to build 450 new housing units in Jenin at least $32,000 per unit.
Mr. Hansen said UNRWA hopes to extend the improvements beyond the camp's crowded core, which housed 14,000 people.
The new appeal supplements the $117 million UNRWA budget for the year, which as of last week was only half-funded.
Mr. Hansen said the UAE contribution is significant because it comes from the Arab world.
"Many donors have complained in the past about the Arab countries not pulling their full share," he said, adding that the pledge from the UAE "should go a long way towards relieving that."
Alan Baker, chief legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said in an interview last week that Israel refused to help dispose of the ordnance because UNRWA "could not guarantee us that these explosives would not stray into terrorists' hands."
He also said it is not Israel's job to help rebuild the camps.
The Israeli government has repeatedly blamed UNRWA for failing to halt militant activities inside the camps for displaced Palestinians. It describes the shelters as hotbeds of and springboards for terrorists.
Mr. Hansen has been rebuffing these accusations for years, including those lobbed at him last week during hostile questioning from U.S. officials and lawmakers.
"There are undoubtedly weapons that have been produced in the camps," he acknowledged last week, adding that even if UNRWA workers knew about such activities, it would be too dangerous for them to report these to the Israelis or even U.N. authorities.
The United Nations plans to issue a report on the events in Jenin this month. The Israelis have refused to cooperate saying it is inherently biased.

New U.S. scrutiny
Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill told U.N. diplomats on Tuesday that the United States would be closely watching how its foreign assistance was being used by the world body, paying special attention to program results.
"In the past, too much aid has been scattered into the winds of lawlessness, corruption and unaccountability," Mr. O'Neill said at a meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. "For 50 years we have accepted and expected too little from development aid."
He warned that recipient nations can expect a "sea change" in how U.S.-funded programs are evaluated. "The goal is not more teachers or more scholarships or more books," Mr. O'Neill said. "The goal is children with full functional ability to read, write and compute by age 10."
Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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