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Switzerland suspends funding to crisis-hit UN agency for Palestinians

GENEVA — Switzerland says it is suspending funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees after an ethics report revealed alleged mismanagement and abuse of authority at the agency’s highest levels.

The internal report by UNRWA’s own ethics department, a copy of which has been seen by AFP, includes allegations of sexual misconduct, nepotism and discrimination.

The Swiss foreign ministry tells AFP in an email that it had already made its annual contribution of 22.3 million Swiss francs ($22.5 million, 20.2 million euros) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Switzerland “attaches particular importance to good governance of international organisations,” the foreign ministry says, describing UNRWA as “an important multilateral partner for Switzerland.”

But Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis in May called UNRWA “part of the problem” in the Middle East, as it fueled “unrealistic” hope among Palestinians of return after 70 years of exile.

— AFP

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