UN chief Guterres accepts independent UNRWA review, due to be released later today

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens during a UN Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York City on April 18, 2024. (Angela Weiss/AFP)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens during a UN Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York City on April 18, 2024. (Angela Weiss/AFP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has accepted the recommendations from an independent review of UNRWA’s ability to ensure neutrality and respond to allegations of breaches.

“He has agreed with Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini that UNRWA, with the Secretary-General’s support, will establish an action plan to implement the recommendations,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric says in a statement. “Moving forward, the Secretary-General appeals to all stakeholders to actively support UNRWA, as it is a lifeline for Palestine refugees in the region.”

The review, led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna and due to be released later today, reportedly found that Israel has failed to provide evidence of claims that UNRWA workers in Gaza have ties to terrorist organizations.

According to The Guardian — which obtained a copy of the panel’s findings ahead of publication — the review finds UNRWA to be “irreplaceable and indispensable” to Palestinians in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank, and says that while stronger safeguarding mechanisms could be implemented to ensure neutrality, the UN body already has a significant screening process in place in order to “ensure compliance with the humanitarian principles.”

The report follows allegations by Israel that at least 12 employees of the UN body for Palestinian refugees were directly involved in the October 7 atrocities perpetrated by Hamas; another 30 assisted or facilitated those crimes; and as much as 12 percent of the organization’s staff were affiliated with terror organizations.

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