Issue 635: UNRWA fakes Gaza girl campaign using photo of bombed-out Damascus

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Human Rights Watch chief mocks Jews

Following is an open letter from UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer to Human Rights Watch chief Ken Roth, which went viral on Facebook. Dear Ken Roth

UNRWA fakes Gaza girl campaign using
photo of bombed-out Damascus

GENEVA, June 2, 2017 – UN Watch today demanded that UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl apologize for using images of a girl from a bombed-out Syrian building as part of a global campaign to raise money for the organization by pretending the girl is a Gaza victim of Israeli actions.


UNRWA is now running the above photo on Facebook and in paid Twitter ads. It is also now UNRWA’s cover page photo on both Facebook and Twitter.
UNRWA’s narrative of the photo tells of a girl named Aya from Gaza who is said to be 11 years old now, and who has suffered from the Israeli blockade of Gaza, occupation, and walls.
Hamas oppression of Gazans and its misuse of millions of dollars to construct missiles and terror tunnels is nowhere mentioned.
The UNRWA photo caption reads:

“Imagine being cut off from the world – for your whole life. That’s reality for children like Aya. The blockade of Gaza began when she was a baby, the occupation in the West Bank before her parents were born. Now she is eleven, and the blockade goes on.
Aya’s childhood memories are of conflict and hardship, walls she cannot escape, and the fear that the only home she knows, however tiny, could be gone when she returns from school.
This Ramadan, please help support children like Aya who have known nothing but conflict and hardship. Donate here: http://buff.ly/2qgsP0Y#forPalestinerefugees

Yet in fact neither the girl nor the bombed-out building are in Gaza; the photo was apparently taken near Damascus, in 2014.
Here is UNRWA tweeting the original image in a January 2015 story on Syria:

The photo has also appeared on other UNRWA Syria pages, herehere, and here, an UNRWA 2014 report on Syria in which the caption reads:

A young girl stands in the rubble of Qabr Essit, near Damascus. In 2014, UNRWA was able begin rebuilding facilities within the neighbourhood, including a school and community centre. © 2014 UNRWA Photo by Taghrid Mohammad.
UN Watch wrote to Mr. Krahenbuhl two months ago about numerous UNRWA teachers who incite racism and Jihadist terrorism online, as documented here. Neither he nor anyone else from UNRWA has responded.