Masked Palestinians demonstrate against UNRWA. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90) (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Palestinians UNRWA demonstrate

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New Zealand announced Tuesday it has suspended its funding to the Palestinians’ United Nations agency (UNRWA) following a probe into corrupt conduct by the organization’s heads, as the organization claims to suffer from a $150 million deficit.

By TPS

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade stated that funding to the Palestinians’ United Nations agency (UNRWA) is on hold until the release of a report by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services on allegations against agency bosses on corruption and misconduct.

In July, a confidential internal report from the UNRWA office of ethics that details alleged abuses of authority among the organization’s senior management team was exposed.

The 10-page document cites “credible and corroborated reports” that top UNRWA officials have engaged in “abuses of authority for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called on the international community to halt its funding to UNRWA, and Holland, Belgium and Switzerland announced their suspension of funding for UNRWA.

The US State Department announced in September 2018 that the US, the largest contributor to UNRWA with $350 million in annual aid, will make no additional contributions to the agency.

In the meantime, UNRWA spokesman Sami Mushasha announced earlier this week that the organization was suffering from a $150 million deficit following the halt in contributions from the supporting countries.

Mushasha alleged that the probe was being utilized by various elements to weaken UNRWA.

UNRWA has been operating to broaden its base of supporters and has secured the long-term support of 17 countries.

The European Union is the largest body that is shouldering the expenses entailed with supporting the organization, and is negotiating with the World Bank and other international bodies to secure UNRWA’s future.

UNRWA has an annual budget $1.2 billion to support so-called Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and in the Palestinian Authority.

A study released in September 2017 shows that in 2016, UNRWA, which provides assistance solely to Palestinians, spent an average of $246 for each of the 5.3 million Palestinians it defines as refugees, while the UNHCR spent only a quarter of that amount – $58 per refugee – on non-Palestinians.

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