Note to Correspondents - on the Independent Review of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

21 March 2024

The independent review group that is assessing whether the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is doing everything within its power to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations of serious breaches when they are made, will submit its interim report officially to the Secretary-General later today.

The Secretary-General, in consultation with the Commissioner-General of UNRWA Philippe Lazzarini announced the review on 5 February 2024, led by Catherine Colonna, the former Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, working with three research organizations: the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden, the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

The Review follows serious allegations regarding the alleged involvement of UNRWA staff in the 7 October attack on Israel by Hamas. These allegations are under investigation by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).

Yesterday, the group presented the Interim Report findings and recommendations to the Secretary-General. It has found that UNRWA has in place a significant number of mechanisms and procedures to ensure compliance with the Humanitarian Principle of neutrality, and the group has also identified critical areas that still need to be addressed.

The review group will now develop concrete and realistic recommendations on how to address these critical areas to strengthen and improve UNRWA.

The group will present the final report on the 20 April and that report will be made public.
New York, 20 March 2024

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Background Information: 

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.

UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

Your support is crucial to help us provide emergency aid 
to displaced families in Gaza

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