An ethics report that found gross mismanagement in the UN agency for Palestinian “refugees” has led to Switzerland to suspend all funding. The report discovered mismanagement and abuse of authority at the UN agency’s highest levels.
The internal report by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s own ethics department, includes allegations of sexual misconduct, nepotism and discrimination.
The Swiss foreign ministry told news outlets in an email that it had already made its annual contribution of $22.5 million to UNRWA.
But Bern said it was “suspending any additional contributions” to UNRWA — already in crisis due to US funding cuts — pending the findings of United Nations investigators who are examining the ethics report.
UNRWA, led by Swiss national Pierre Krahenbuhl, has declined to comment in detail on the internal report while the UN probe is ongoing.
But the document describes “credible and corroborated” allegations of serious ethical abuses, including involving Krahenbuhl. The report comes after the Trump administration made similar allegations and eventually withdrew its own funding. At the time, the media refused to corroborate the assertions by the United States that the agency was rife with fraud and abuse.
The actions of the Swiss now have vindicated the accusations of the Trump administration.
It says the allegations include senior management engaging in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives.”
Switzerland “attaches particular importance to good governance of international organizations,” the foreign ministry said, describing UNRWA as “an important multilateral partner for Switzerland.”
But Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis in May called UNRWA “part of the problem” in the Middle East, as it fueled “unrealistic” hope among Arab Palestinians of return after having voluntarily fled their homes at the creation of Israel in the late 1940s.
The term “refugee” is applied by the UN to cover the descendants of the Arabs who fled their homes at the encouragement of Arab nations at the outset of the attack on the newly formed State of Israel. The term Palestinian was applied to all people living in the area, including Jews and Christians but after Israel’s war of independence, Arabs appropriated the term and created the “Palestinian” Arab people.
The Secretary of the Arab League Office in London, Edward Atiyah, wrote in his book, The Arabs: “This wholesale exodus was due partly to the belief of the Arabs, encouraged by the boastings of an unrealistic Arabic press and the irresponsible utterances of some of the Arab leaders that it could be only a matter of weeks before the Jews were defeated by the armies of the Arab States and the Palestinian Arabs enabled to reenter and retake possession of their country” (Edward Atiyah, The Arabs, London: Penguin Books, 1955, p. 183).
The UN continues to call descendants of those original Arabs “refugees” – the only instance in the world where descendants remain in “refugee” status. It provides schooling and medical services to millions of descendants in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip because they refuse to become citizens of host countries while hoping for the expulsion of Jews from Israel so they might retake the land. That is the official policy of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and other Palestinian organizations.
UN investigators visited UNRWA’s offices in Jerusalem and Amman, collecting information related to the allegations, sources familiar with the matter said.
The Trump administration and has called for UNWRA to be dismantled, with its services handed over to countries hosting the Palestinians and NGOs.
The administration, along with Israel and other nations, accuses UNRWA of perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by extending refugee status to millions of descendants of Arabs who fled at the time of the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948, rather than limiting refugee status only to the original refugees as is the norm with most refugee populations worldwide.