Issue: "Summer Books 2002," July 7, 2002

Unhappy campers

The "temporary" UN agency set up 50 years ago to administer Palestinian refugee camps is asking UN members to donate funds to rebuild camps damaged by Israeli military action and to close a funding gap. The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) runs the Jenin camp, along with 58 others in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza. Those camps were set up more than 50 years ago when Jewish settlers displaced longtime Palestinian residents in newly designated Israeli territory. The camps are hotbeds of restive protest against Israel and-more recently-terrorist activity, including suicide bombing missions targeting Israelis and hatched largely in Jenin. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) called the UNRWA request "brazen" while "buildings and warehouses under UNRWA's supervision are allegedly being used as storage areas for Palestinian ammunition and counterfeit currency factories." At the same time, the Kuwaiti daily newspaper, Al-Watan, reports that Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat deposited into his personal bank account $5.1 million meant for humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees. UNRWA's 2001 budget called for $311 million to administer 59 camps, which house a total of 1.2 million refugees. But the UN provided $285 million last year, leaving the agency with a $26 million shortfall. -M.B.

Checkpoint China?

Beijing's once-serene, tree-lined embassy district is becoming the Berlin Wall of North and South Korea. Despite tight Chinese security, 23 North Koreans have managed to force their way into the South Korean consulate in China's capital. Two more took refuge in the Canadian embassy. A diplomatic furor erupted last month when Chinese police chased a South Korean man with false papers into the South Korean consulate and punched and kicked South Korean diplomats before dragging the man away. Amnesty International accuses China of rounding up 1,400 North Koreans from refuge in northeast China and sending them home. With starvation and political oppression at all-time highs inside North Korea, as many as 300,000 North Koreans have crossed the border into China illegally. The influx puts China in a dilemma over its small communist cohort: China has a treaty with North Korea requiring it to hand over illegal immigrants; but it also has an obligation under UN and other international standards to determine whether the illegals should receive political asylum. -Mindy Belz

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