UNRWA chief says attack on UNRWA is not about neutrality — Global Issues
Philip Lazzarini
  • Written by Noreen Hossain (new york)
  • interpress service

Lazzarini also told reporters that the focus now is on filling the funding gap left by the United States, which is UNRWA’s biggest donor and was the first to cut aid. The US will freeze funding to UNRWA until March 2025. Lazzarini warned that a prolonged suspension would have a “sustainable impact” on UNRWA’s funding and operations.

He said “grassroots solidarity through digital fundraising” was strengthening support for UNRWA. Since the current hostilities, the agency has received donations of $50 million to $100 million. UNRWA personnel in the field continue to work under dangerous conditions and even in conditions where UNRWA’s neutrality is being called into question. Continued attacks against Palestinians raise the question of whether UNRWA can or should remain neutral under the circumstances. Mr. Lazzarini said UNRWA staff and the communities they serve are “very concerned about the potential dissolution of UNRWA.” “UNRWA is a lifeline not only to local communities but also to their families,” Lazzarini said. Lazzarini’s press conference also followed the publication of the report of an independent investigation into UNRWA led by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna. The report is the result of a nine-week investigation into the organization’s operations and actions to assess its neutrality as a United Nations agency. In summary, the report makes several important recommendations to address concerns regarding communication transparency and accountability, management reform, staff neutrality, and cooperation with other UN agencies. Regarding the report, Mr. Lazzarini said that while UNRWA would regularly keep Member States informed of its plans to implement the recommendations made in the Colonna report, the success of these recommendations would depend on the full support of donors. He added that it was necessary.

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