Review says UNRWA has ‘robust’ neutrality steps, issues persist

By Thomson Reuters Apr 22, 2024 | 8:07 AM

BEIRUT (Reuters) – A review of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has found that it has robust frameworks to ensure compliance with humanitarian neutrality principles though issues persist.

The report, which could prompt some donors to review funding freezes, also said Israel had yet to provide supporting evidence for its claim that a significant number of UNRWA staff were members of terrorist organisations.

The United Nations appointed former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna to lead the UNRWA neutrality review in February after Israel alleged that 12 of UNRWA staff had taken part in the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks on Israel which triggered the Gaza war.

In a separate investigation, a U.N. oversight body is looking into the allegations against the 12 UNRWA staff.

Reuters reviewed a copy of the Colonna-led review’s final report, which is due to be officially released later on Monday.

The report said Israel had made public claims based on an UNRWA staff list provided to it in March that “a significant number” of UNRWA staff were “members of terrorist organizations”.

“However, Israel has yet to provide supporting evidence of this,” it said.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Angus MacSwan)