UNRWA apologized for using a photograph of a child in war-torn Syria, while insinuating that the scene of destruction is a result of IDF brutality in the Gaza Strip.
UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, had claimed the image was of a girl in Gaza and ran the image in Facebook and Twitter ads with the text: “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,” the ad urges.
UN Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog that monitors the United Nations (UN), sent a letter to UNRWA demanding that its commissioner general Pierre Krahenbuhl apologize for “pretending the girl is a Gaza victim of Israeli actions.”
UN Watch highlighted the fact that UNRWA itself had originally used the image, which dates back to 2014. In a 2015 report, UNRWA captioned the photo “A young girl stands in the rubble of Qabr Essit, near Damascus. In 2014, UNRWA was able to begin rebuilding facilities within the neighbourhood, including a school and community centre.”
Following an appeal by UN Watch, UNRWA apologized and claimed its use of the image was mistaken.
“As soon as issues relating to a photograph in our Ramadan campaign were brought to our attention we looked into the matter,” read the statement on the organization’s website. “We had mistakenly posted an image from our archive of a child in Syria and had said that the child was in Gaza. The image has been replaced.”
By: Andrew Friedman/TPS