The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will examine reports that ‘several’ employees were involved in the October 7 attacks.
Mr. Guterres has also asked UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini to swiftly investigate and any employees found to have taken part in or “abetted what transpired” in the brutal attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian militants that day to be fired and referred “for potential criminal prosecution”.
The spokesperson for Secretary-General Mr. Guterres, Stéphane Dujarric, expressed shock over the news in a statement released on Friday morning in New York. During the regular Noon Briefing in New York, it was announced that the allegations had been brought to the attention of the UN chief by the UNRWA Commissioner-General earlier this week.
Urgent independent review
A pressing and thorough evaluation of UNRWA will be performed by an independent party, as stated on 17 January.
The head of UNRWA stated that Israeli authorities had given information regarding the supposed participation of certain members of the agency’s staff.
“In order to ensure the agency’s capacity to provide humanitarian aid, I have made the decision to promptly end the contracts of these employees and initiate an investigation to promptly determine the facts,” stated Mr. Lazzarini.
No UNRWA worker who participated in terror activities will be exempt from consequences, including facing legal charges,” he stated.
He restated UNRWA’s disapproval of the terror attacks in the “most forceful manner” and once again urged for the immediate and unconditional release of all Israeli hostages.
Violation of core principles
Mr. Lazzarini stated that these disturbing accusations have surfaced at a time when over two million individuals in Gaza rely on vital aid from the agency, which has been ongoing since the start of the conflict.
“Those who violate the core principles of the United Nations not only betray the people we serve in Gaza and beyond, but also those around the globe.”
The United States has suspended new financial support to the World Health Organization.
The US State Department announced that it will temporarily halt providing new funds to UNRWA while an investigation into allegations against its staff takes place.
According to spokesperson Matthew Miller, it is necessary for there to be full responsibility for all individuals involved in the abhorrent attacks.
The European Commission’s Vice President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, expressed grave concerns regarding the accusations of involvement by UNRWA staff. He released a statement calling for complete transparency and immediate action against any staff members implicated in the allegations.