Head of UN relief agency for Palestine refugees suspended

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-07 00:03:53|Editor: yan
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UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has suspended the head of the UN relief agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) over alleged managerial issues, said Guterres' press office on Wednesday.

Guterres has received an investigation report from the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services relating to allegations against UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl. The preliminary findings of the report exclude fraud or misappropriation of operational funds by Krahenbuhl. There are, however, managerial issues that need to be addressed, said the press office.

The secretary-general has, therefore, decided to put Krahenbuhl "on administrative leave" while those issues are further clarified so that a final determination can be made, and any appropriate action can be taken, it said in a note to correspondents.

Guterres has designated Christian Saunders to act as the officer-in-charge of UNRWA in the intervening time. Saunders will lead the implementation of a management plan to strengthen the agency, particularly in the areas of oversight and accountability, said the press office.

Guterres expressed his appreciation to UNRWA for its excellent and dedicated work, which is essential to the well-being of Palestine refugees. He called on UN member states and other partners to remain committed to UNRWA and its services.

It is critical for the international community to support the crucial work performed by the agency in the areas of health, education, and humanitarian assistance, which is a source of stability in a volatile region, it said.

UNRWA, whose official name is the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, currently helps more than 5 million Palestine refugees and their descendants in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria as well as West Bank and Gaza.

The agency was confronted with its most severe funding crisis in 2018 after the United States, traditionally the largest donor, suddenly cut its funding before it completely stopped its support.