UNRWA chief to commission review into claims “attacking, blaming, accusing the agency of collusion with Hamas”

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini tells AP (January 19, 2024)

“I will commission a review by a third party, I still have to identify the third party. It needs to be reputable and credible enough to basically look into the various claims we can see in the media coming from either individuals or organisations, attacking or blaming or accusing the agency of collusion with a de facto, with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.”

“Clearly, as an agency, we are indicating that there is none of this agency institutional policies, that we have robust internal mechanism. But I also acknowledge that we are not operating in a no-risk environment.”


See also:

Philippe Lazzarini Interview with ABC Australia, January 18, 2024

AURA TINGLE, PRESENTER:  Philippe Lazzarini, you’ve just met with our Foreign Minister, Penny Wong. What was your message to her?

PHILIPPE LAZZARINI, UNRWA COMMISSIONER GENERAL:  I have informed your minister that UNWRA has taken the decision to commission an independent review to look at all the allegations regarding UNWRA and its activities in Gaza.

As you know, there have quite a number of what I would say are smear campaigns, and I do believe it is important now to have a review to look into all these allegations, to look at what the intent behind it is, but also to look at, when confirmed, what is the response the agency is giving? And depending on the response, what would be the recommendation to improve it?

LAURA TINGLE:  Can I ask whether that review was requested by our Foreign Minister?

PHILIPPE LAZZARINI:  Your Foreign Minister has asked what the agency is intending to do to address these neutrality issues that the agency is under criticism.

And I have informed the minister that a lot of thought has been put into this, and maybe now it is time to go beyond what the agency says and what the detractors of the agency are saying, and hence the importancy factor to have this review.

So today, I have announced the intent of the review, and I hope that, in the coming week, 10 days, I will be able to inform, in fact, not only on the scope of the review, but also who will undertake the review.


AP news, January 17, 2024:


JERUSALEM — The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says he has requested an independent review of claims by pro-Israel groups of unchecked pro-Hamas activity in his organization.

Philippe Lazzarini told reporters Wednesday he would soon appoint a professional consulting group or some other “independent entity” to look into the claims.

Israeli officials and their allies have repeatedly alleged that the refugee agency, known by its acronym UNRWA, allows anti-Israeli incitement to be taught in its hundreds of schools. They also alleged that some of the agency’s tens of thousands of staff members support or collaborate with the Hamas militant group or have written inappropriate social media posts.

Lazzarini said that “constant scrutiny” has had an impact on the agency’s already-stretched operations by encouraging some donor nations to consider defunding the organization. He said it also has hurt morale at a time when UNRWA is conducting “this huge humanitarian operation in Gaza.”

Lazzarini said he wants the review to determine “what is true or untrue” and to look at how the agency deals with problematic cases. He says he is confident the investigation will find there is “no systemic policy” violating U.N. standards and that there is a proper system of oversight in place.

He said the assessment would also look at “what is disingenuous, what is politically motivated” among the critics.

UN Watch