UNICEF branch quietly stops publishing list of NGO partners after years of scrutiny
This story was first published by The Dark Wire Investigation Foundation
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has quietly stopped publishing a list of nongovernmental organizations (NGO) it partners with to carry out its mission in the Palestinian territories, according to Israel-based organization NGO Monitor. NGO Monitor investigates non-governmental organizations that claim to advance human rights and humanitarian agendas.
The revelation comes after NGO Monitor’s explosive 2018 report revealed that UNICEF was working in tandem with NGOs that support and seek to advance the BDS (Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement against Israel.
It was a stunning revelation, analysts told this reporter.
Moreover, the investigative report noted that UNICEF was partnering with organizations with ties to U.S., Canada, and European Union designated terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). At the time, these groups were seeking to blacklist the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as one of the “grave violators of children’s rights” alongside groups like ISIS and Boko Haram.
The European Union, however, is denying its connection and stating that it is “unaware” of such a campaign, according to Israel Hayom, a popular news outlet in Israel.
However, the European Union’s explanation doesn’t match the evidence collected by NGO Monitor, which has been tracking such efforts to target the IDF since 2017, Anne Herzberg, Legal Advisor of NGO Monitor, told The Dark Wire.
“We call on UNICEF to end its funding and project secrecy and to cease all cooperation with NGOs linked to the PFLP and other terror groups,” said Herzberg. “We also demand that the EU and other government donors immediately freeze all UNICEF-OPT funding until this cooperation is ended.”
Groups such as Norwegian Refugee Council, International Association for the Rights of the Child Palestine, and Save the Children have been financing the effort to carry out the mission of placing the IDF on a blacklist synonymous with terrorist organizations, Israel Hayom first reported. These groups have also been actively lobbying the International Criminal Court and U.S. Congress to designate the IDF as a child rights abuser.
“Several of the UN’s partners have close ties to the PFLP terror group which raises concerns of potential recruitment of children and the possible diversion of millions of dollars in aid for terrorist activity,” Herzberg explained.
“Since we first exposed these operations, the UN responded by hiding the current list of NGO partners,” she added.
UNICEF did not respond to The Dark Wire’s multiple requests for comment, nor did they return calls and emails made to their office in the Palestinian Territories.
The U.S. has been one of UNICEF”s top financial contributors. In 2019, the U.S. government contributed $743 million, making it the top supporter that year.
Still, no U.S. lawmakers or officials contacted by this reporter would comment on NGO Monitor’s report. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks, whose committee has oversight over some of these matters, did not comment. The committee’s Ranking Member Michael McCaul, R-Tx, declined to comment.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican member of the committee, didn’t respond to our request for comment.
The U.S. Mission to the United Nations also didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
As of September 2017, UNICEF’s office in the Palestinian territories was transparent about working alongside Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Mezan, B’Tselem, Terre Des Homme – Suisse, Save the Children, War Child Holland, World Vision, OCHA, UNESCO, UNRWA, UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), and WHO. That was the last apparent such disclosure, where the groups stated their joint mission “to report on the impact of armed conflict on children in Israel and the State of Palestine.”
But it’s groups like Save the Children that seem more politically motivated than actually data-driven, according to NGO Monitor. That’s evidenced in their standards for defining attacks on education, which don’t align with the standards of the U.N.
Save the Children is an NGO that supports vulnerable children all over the world and in the U.S. they support children living in poverty, especially those living in rural America.
In an April 2020 report, Save the Children identified the impact of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict on education in the West Bank. The report was based on 400 children surveyed across the area.
The report uses the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack‘s (GCPEA) definition of attacks on education, which states, “Attacks on education are any intentional threat or use of force—carried out for political, military, ideological, sectarian, ethnic, religious, or criminal reasons—against students, educators, and education institutions.”
The UN, however, defines attacks on education more specifically and even states in a situation “where it is not possible to determine the link between the attack and the targeted person’s role as a provider of education or health care, the incident should not be included as an attack on related protected person.”
Save the Children’s definition of attacks on education being more broad means there is more to be considered as an attack on education. Moreover, the group acknowledges “that many of the incidents that children reported to us fall outside this definition, for example incidents relating to heavily armed military or settlers that make them feel unsafe in the classroom, or on their way to and from school. However, we give them equal weight and representation in this report as the children do not make a distinction between these incidents and attacks that fall within the GCPEA definition, and identified them as a barrier to a quality education or feeling safe at school.”
Save the Children also admits in the report that the survey “is not a statistically significant or representative sample as it is drawn from schools that have experienced the highest numbers of education-related violations,” adding
“However, it is felt that the findings will contribute to a dialogue on how best to advance the education of Palestinian children in the region and overcome the barriers many of them face.”
But the report’s findings are “misleading,” according to NGO Monitor’s analysis, which claims that Save the Children “grossly understates” the violence stemming from Palestinian children, for example.
“The Israeli military justice system only deals with minors suspected of violent crimes such as murder, attempted murder, and severe assault,” NGO Monitor wrote in response to a subsequent October report on Palestinian children in Israeli detention. “Many of the ‘children’ are older teens (16-18), incited by terror groups and the Palestinian Authority, and involved in such violent acts. This vital context is left conspicuously unstated by Save the Children.”
They added, “Save the Children also claims that is not seeking to downplay “the potential seriousness of” stone throwing, and then does exactly that. Instead of highlighting the deaths and significant injuries that have occurred due to stone throwing, Save the Children refers to an old study (2012) to argue that “the prevalence and severity of physical injury resulting from stone throwing is very low” and that “This should be noted when considering the proportionality of the treatment that children endure throughout their detention experience
Ardie Geldman is the director of www.iTalkIsrael.com. He hosts pro-Palestinian groups in Efrat for weekend visits in order to expose them to the people who live in what the United Nations and others consider settlements.
“The United Nations today, including its many agencies like UNICEF, is not the same United Nations that I remember from my childhood,” said Ardie Geldman, who has been a resident of Efrat for 35 years. “Extreme international pressure on the UN originating with Muslim countries following Israel’s victory in the June 1967 Six-Day War and spreading to Europe, transformed it into a virtual kangaroo court when it comes to the State of Israel.”
He added, “Any UN agency dance to the tune of either the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, respectively. Thus, UNICEF has been recruited to join the Palestinians in their effort to disparage Israel’s international image by launching spurious charges. What the Palestinians couldn’t accomplish after decades of terrorism, the toppling of Israel, they now hope to accomplish by turning international bodies against the Jewish state, including the International Criminal Court.
You can follow Jennie S. Taer on Twitter @JennieSTaer