Groups tied to terror: UN agency accepted $50 million from Union of Good - opinion

The Union of Good is an umbrella fundraising organization of charities and was designated as a terrorist organization by the US Treasury.

 WHAT MAKES this matter especially concerning is that the UNHCR began to partner with the Qatar Charity in 2012, under the watch of António Guterres, who was then the high commissioner for refugees, says the writer. (photo credit: VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS)
WHAT MAKES this matter especially concerning is that the UNHCR began to partner with the Qatar Charity in 2012, under the watch of António Guterres, who was then the high commissioner for refugees, says the writer.
(photo credit: VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS)

Terrorism and human rights are simply irreconcilable. Despite purporting to champion human rights, the United Nations has nevertheless been at the center of numerous terrorism-related controversies. These include the Taliban’s ongoing candidacy for a seat in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and widespread concerns that the UNHRC’s open-ended Commission of Inquiry targeting Israel is whitewashing and enabling the crimes of Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza.

It has now come to light that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – the main UN agency responsible for assisting refugees worldwide – has partnered with and accepted nearly $50 million (NIS165 m.) from member charities of a US-designated terrorist organization: the Union of Good. The relevant member charities are the Qatar Charity and Eid Charity, both of which are already individually designated as terrorist organizations by five Middle Eastern governments.

The Union of Good is an umbrella fundraising organization of charities and was designated as a terrorist organization by the US Treasury, in 2008. This is because it is an organization created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization. As noted by the Counter Extremism Project, the Union of Good includes the Qatar Charity and the Eid Charity.

Since 2012, the UNHCR has accepted approximately $49 million (NIS161 m.) from the Qatar Charity. It also received approximately $4.75 million (NIS15.6 m.) in cash assistance from the Eid Charity in 2020 and 2021. While such money has seemingly been used to help refugees, a humanitarian institution accepting funds from groups tied to terrorism is deeply disturbing. The UN and the UNHCR are exposing themselves to dangerous influences and potentially legitimizing an internationally-recognized terrorist organization.

Even worse, the UNHCR has openly celebrated its relationships with these groups, spotlighting them on its official web page. The current High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has praised the Qatar Charity for its collaboration with the UNHCR. What makes this matter especially concerning is that the UNHCR began to partner with the Qatar Charity in 2012 under the watch of António Guterres, who was then the High Commissioner for Refugees. Guterres is now the secretary-general of the United Nations, a testament to the influence commanded by the high commissioner for refugees.

 An overview of the special session on the situation in Ukraine of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 4, 2022. (credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE/REUTERS) An overview of the special session on the situation in Ukraine of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 4, 2022. (credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE/REUTERS)

Grandi’s praise for the Qatar Charity completely runs afoul of what is expected from his position, which is presently tasked with leading and coordinating international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. The Qatar Charity is considered a terrorist organization by multiple Middle Eastern countries and stands accused of financing Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. These terrorist organizations seek to destroy Israel, which would likely create a massive refugee crisis.

Abdul Rahman Al Nuaimi

Meanwhile, the Eid Charity’s founder, Abdul Rahman Al Nuaimi, is a notorious terrorist financier who has been designated as a terrorist by the United States and the UN itself. Further, documents revealed to the Middle East Forum indicate that the Eid Charity in recent years has channeled approximately $75 million (NIS247 m.) to affiliates of Hamas, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Turkish-based organization Ihsani Yardim Vakfiih (IHH), which is banned as a terrorist organization in multiple European countries.

The UNHCR’s decision to partner with member charities of a US-designated terrorist organization entirely flies in the face of the commission’s raison d’être to help refugees and displaced people. This problem has endless implications for the UN and its agencies at all levels of UN governance, going all the way up to the current UN secretary-general.

It should go without saying that the UN must immediately cease all partnerships with groups that are tied to terrorism. Failure to do otherwise compromises the integrity of the institution we are supposed to trust to protect human rights and aid refugees worldwide.

The writer is the director of policy education at StandWithUs, a nonprofit and nonpartisan international Israel education organization. He has also previously done research on the Eid Charity as a Qatari Finance Fellow for the Middle East Forum.