The United States Mission to the United Nations tweeted on July 29 that they were “deeply disturbed” by allegations of “ethical abuses” occurring at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
U.N. investigators alleged in a July 29 report, which was obtained by Agence-France Presse (AFP), that UNRWA senior management engaged in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives.” One of the examples AFP cites includes UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl appointing a female he was “romantically involved with” to a senior advisor position in 2015 so she could “join him on business class flights across the globe.”
Additionally, the report alleges that senior officials bullied staff members; one of these senior officials allegedly used her position “to find a well-paid job for her husband” in 2018, according to AFP. A senior UNRWA staffer claimed to AFP that she was fired in July as “retaliation” for her warnings of alleged misconduct from UNRWA management.
The U.S. Mission to the U.N. tweeted:
— US Mission to the UN (@USUN) July 30, 2019
U.S. Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt similarly tweeted, “We’re extremely concerned abt UNRWA allegations. We urge a full & transparent investigation by the UN. UNRWA’s model is broken/unsustainable & based on an endless expanding # of beneficiaries. Palestinians residing in refugee camps deserve much better.”
We’re extremely concerned abt UNRWA allegations. We urge a full & transparent investigation by the UN. UNRWA’s model is broken/unsustainable & based on an endless expanding # of beneficiaries. Palestinians residing in refugee camps deserve much better. https://t.co/6oQn8jstyj
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) July 29, 2019
U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer also weighed in:
UNRWA CEO Pierre Krahenbuhl abused power, had affair with employee, flew her worldwide in Business Class.
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) July 30, 2019
Switzerland’s foreign ministry told AFP that they are ceasing any further funds to UNRWA in light of the report for the time being.
Krahenbuhl told AFP that UNRWA will take corrective action based on the investigators’ recommendations.
UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide services to Palestinian refugees in the aftermath of the 1948 War of Independence. The Trump administration zeroed out funding to UNRWA in 2018, calling for the agency to be reformed and for Arab countries to step up in providing aid to the organization.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Dany Danon said in a January 2018 statement, “Just over the last year alone, UNRWA officials were elected to the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA schools denied the existence of Israel, and terror tunnels were dug under UNRWA facilities. It is time for this absurdity to end and for humanitarian funds to be directed towards their intended purpose — the welfare of refugees.”