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July 29, 2019 3:52 pm

UNRWA Leaders Accused of Sexual Misconduct, Ethics’ Violations

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Palestinians pass by the gate of an UNRWA-run school in Nablus in the West Bank, August 13, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Abed Omar Qusini. – An internal ethics report sent to the UN secretary-general in December alleges that the commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and other officials at the highest levels of the UN agency have committed a series of serious ethics violations, AFP has reported.

According to AFP, Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl and other top officials at the UN agency are being accused of abuses including “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives.”

The allegations are currently being probed by UN investigators.

In one instance, Krähenbühl, a married father of three from Switzerland, is accused of having a lover appointed to a newly-created role of senior adviser to the commissioner-general after an “extreme fast-track” process in 2015, which also entitled her to travel with him around the world with top accommodations.

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UNRWA said that it will cooperate fully with the investigation, but will not discuss details due to the ongoing investigation.

According to reports, two senior officials charged in the investigation have already resigned.

UNRWA provides various kinds of aid and assistance to Palestinian refugees and generations of their descendants, in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, as well as the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

It employs approximately 30,000 Palestinians, making it one of the largest employers of Palestinians in the world.

The internal report was sent to the UN secretary-general in December and comes to light during a funding crisis caused by a US decision to end its support for the agency.

Under the Trump administration, the United States argued that UNRWA has perpetuated, rather than helped, end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by extending refugee status to the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who fled Israel during the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948.

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