UN group providing assistance to Palestinian refugees found that Israel did not demonstrate concern for its workers.

Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)

 NEWSLINE PAPER,- Following a thorough investigation meant to guarantee the independence of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), results have emerged showing that Israel hasn't voiced concerns about the agency's personnel since 2011. Israel's charges that a dozen UNRWA staff members were complicit in Hamas' October 7 strikes sparked this investigation.
The 48-page report, which was released on Monday, explores a number of UNRWA operations. Although the study noted the agency's strong policies to preserve impartiality, it also pointed out serious shortcomings in execution, like staff members openly expressing their political opinions, controversial material in textbooks used in UNRWA-run schools, and staff union disruptions. The report offers fifty suggestions meant to strengthen UNRWA's neutrality in order to overcome these weaknesses.

Allegations of neutrality violations at UNRWA varied yearly between seven and fifty-five between 2017 and 2022. But between January 2022 and February 2024, the figure increased to 151, with the majority of the accusations coming from publicly available social media posts.

A key focus of the evaluation is the impartiality of UNRWA employees. Even though host nations have access to staff names, including those of about 13,000 workers in Gaza, Israel has not expressed worries about these workers. Israeli authorities made clear that the exchange of personnel names is seen more as a way to register diplomats than as a screening procedure.

The study interestingly notes that Palestinian identification numbers were not included on personnel rosters until March 2024. These identifying numbers seemed to be the foundation of Israeli allegations on the purported terrorist organization affiliation of some UNRWA staff members. Israel has not, however, yet given UNRWA any proof to back up these assertions.

Lead of the independent review team, former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, stressed that their job was to evaluate UNRWA's impartiality, not to look into Israeli accusations. The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) has started a separate investigation into these claims; updates are anticipated in the next days.

Israel's accusations caused the US and other nations to stop funding UNRWA, resulting in a roughly $450 million funding freeze. All the same, a number of nations have started contributing again.

In reaction, the Foreign Ministry of Israel attacked the study for downplaying the gravity of the problem and providing flimsy fixes. Colonna did, however, stress the suggestions' potential to produce good results and urged Israel to give them serious thought.

The report emphasizes the indispensable contribution of UNRWA to the humanitarian and economic development of Palestine. In the lack of a political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, UNRWA continues to be crucial in offering Palestinian refugees in different parts of the country basic services.

The United Nations welcomes the suggestions made in the report and expects to see funders return and new supporters sign on. Among the suggested actions are initiatives to lessen the politicization of UNRWA employees and operations, more leadership supervision, and a pledge to fight prejudice and antisemitism in teaching materials.

Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini of UNRWA remarked on the report's findings and vowed to carry them out. He underlined the vital part UNRWA plays in resolving the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and warned against demands to abolish it.

Over the course of nine weeks, UNRWA officials, representatives from 47 nations and organizations, and international experts were all extensively consulted for this evaluation. This joint endeavor emphasizes the need of maintaining UNRWA's impartiality and effectiveness in providing essential assistance to Palestinian refugees.


Previous Post Next Post