FDFA notes resignation of UNRWA Commissioner-General

Bern, 06.11.2019 - The United Nations (UN) has announced the resignation of the Commissioner-General for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Pierre Krähenbühl. The announcement follows the launch of an investigation into misconduct allegations involving UNRWA's management. The FDFA notes the resignation and calls for a full and thorough clarification of the facts. Switzerland will withhold payment of its project contributions pending the outcome of the investigation.

On 29 July 2019, UNRWA informed the FDFA that an investigation by the UN's internal oversight body, OIOS, was under way into possible mismanagement. Since then, the FDFA has repeatedly called on the UN to ensure that the investigation is conducted swiftly and transparently and that the full facts are brought to light. To that end, it has supported the OIOS investigation from the outset and now takes note of Pierre Krähenbühl's resignation.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) responded quickly to the allegations against UNRWA management, suspending payment of its outstanding project contributions for 2019 on 29 July. This decision is linked to the investigation and is therefore temporary. The SDC will decide whether to release the suspended payments once it has seen the investigation report and analysed the proposed measures. The report is expected by the end of November.

The FDFA backs the UNRWA reform programme aimed at promoting good governance of the relief organisation and the efficient use of funds. UNRWA is a key player in the stability and security of the Middle East, working to improve the prospects of Palestinian refugees.

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs