The UN chief also met with the head of the Office of Internal Oversight (OIOS), the top investigative body in the UN system, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a regular midday briefing on Monday.
This is to ensure that the investigation into allegations that several UNRWA staff were involved in the October 7 terrorist attacks in Israel “will be carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible”, Mr. Dujarric said.
“We have an ongoing accountability process. While this is happening, people need to survive and we need continuous support for UNRWA and all our humanitarian work,” he added.
Mr. Dujarric noted that the Secretary-General is “personally horrified” by the allegations, but that his message to donors, especially those who have suspended their contributions, is to “at least guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s operations because we have tens of thousands of dedicated staff working throughout the region.”
“The desperate needs of the desperate residents they serve must be met,” Mr. Dujarric added.
In addition to its programs in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA provides vital humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
In the Gaza Strip, the agency provides life-saving assistance to more than two million civilians, operates shelters for more than one million, and provides food, water, and health services.
Also on Monday, a group of leading international aid agencies and NGOs called on countries that have pulled funding for UNRWA over allegations of collusion among staff “to reaffirm support for the vital work” the UN agency does.
These include the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Save the Children, and the War Child Alliance.
They called on donor states that have suspended funding – which include the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, Finland, and Japan – to restore urgently needed support or “risk further depriving Palestinians in the region of basic food, water, and medical aid.” and supply, education and protection.
Some countries have said they will continue funding, expressing deep concern over the allegations, while other donors have reportedly decided to continue funding while the investigation proceeds.
Image Source: United Nations