New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a statement about suspending funding to the United Nations’ aid agency for Palestinians Arabs. The reason for such a serious move is allegations of corruption and links to terrorism in the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
The government of New Zealand followed the Netherlands and Switzerland in their desire to revise the relations with the UNRWA. The funding for that UN body is on hold until the release of the October report by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services on allegations.
The UNRWA’s reputation is spotted by misconduct, corruption, links to terror groups, the perpetuation of the Israeli-Arab conflict and anti-Semitism, the UN OIOS report said.
“We expect UNRWA to cooperate fully with the investigation under way and to report back on the investigation’s findings and recommendations,” the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.
NZ MFA will review the findings of the UN OIOS report once the investigation is complete. In addition, it will provide advice to the minister of Foreign Affairs on future funding. From January to June, New Zealand provided nearly $1.6 million to UNRWA.
UN aid agency for Palestinians under fire for corruption
NZ’s suspending financial support for the UNRWA is not the first case. Last month, the Netherlands and Switzerland announced the suspension of funding for UNRWA following a damning report alleging corruption at the organization’s highest levels.
An internal report leaked last month alleged both graft and sexual misconduct of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which was thrown into crisis after the United States announced last year that it would no longer fund it. The allegations are now being scrutinized by UN investigators.
A copy of the damning report obtained by AFP describes “credible and corroborated” allegations of serious ethical abuses, including involving UNRWA’s top official, Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl.
According to UNRWA, when the agency was launched in 1948, it provided services to about 750,000 refugees. But since Palestinian refugee status is “inherited,” that number has grown about seven-fold to some 5.2 million today.
Until earlier this year, the United States had been the largest donor to UNRWA, providing more than $355 million to the agency in 2016. However, President Donald Trump slashed contributions to the agency by approximately 80 percent to around $80 million.
“It is time to return UNRWA to its original framework and that is what H.R. 6451, the UNRWA Reform and Refugee Support Act, would do. This bill would ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars dedicated to refugees only contribute to UNRWA to the extent that it resettles the original refugees from 1948—not their descendants, who UNRWA also claim to be refugees,” Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) said.