UNRWA chief to request review, says it will find “no systemic policy” violating UN standards, proper system of oversight

AP, January 17, 2o24


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 Wednesday that the behavior alleged by critics runs counter to the U.N.’s principles and that his agency has internal safeguards to deal with violations.

But he said the “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