UNRWA employees are suspected of having participated in a Hamas attack on Israel
The European Commission has asked UNRWA (acronym in English for United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees) to accept the carrying out of an audit, carried out by “independent external experts appointed” by the EU (European Union). The measure, according to a statement (completein English – 29 kB) issued on Monday (January 29, 2024), seeks for the agency to review “the assessment of the pillars, focusing specifically on the control systems necessary to prevent the possible involvement of your personnel in terrorist activities”.
Last week, information was released that agency employees were involved in the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 (read more below).
Several countries suspended funding to the agency after the disclosure of the employees’ possible involvement in the October 7 attacks. Among them, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Australia, Finland and USA. The Commission said it will consider continuing its funding to UNRWA following the completion of a UN investigation into the case. Financial aid has not been suspended because no transfers are scheduled until the end of February.
“The Commission will analyze the matter in light of the outcome of the investigation announced by the UN [Organização das Nações Unidas] and the measures that [a Organização] will take. The Commission welcomes the information provided by UNRWA as well as the initiation of the investigation”, the statement reads. “A review of all UNRWA personnel should be carried out as soon as possible to confirm that they did not participate in the attacks”, he adds.
The Commission said that “humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will continue unabated”, being made “through partner organizations”.
The UN agency’s purpose is to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees living in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon and Syria.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he had been informed of allegations that UNRWA officials were involved in the October 7 attacks in Israel. According to statement of the USA, there were 12 workers involved.
In a note issued by his spokesperson on Friday (26 January), Guterres states that he was aware of this news “extremely serious” through the agency’s general commissioner, Philippe Lazzarini, and “is horrified”. According to Lazzarini, it was the Israeli authorities who provided the information about the employees’ alleged participation.
Guterres asked the commissioner-general to investigate the matter and ensure that any employee of the agency “who participated in or was an accomplice to the acts, or in any other criminal activity, be dismissed immediately and referred for possible criminal prosecution”.
UNRWA claims to have opened an investigation into workers suspected of involvement in the attacks, with whom it says the contractual relationship has ended.