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Euro-Mediterranean: European countries will resume funds to UNRWA soon
Euro-Mediterranean: European countries will resume funds to UNRWA soon
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West Bank, ALRAY - Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden explained that their decision to suspend the additional funding was temporary and merely a routine issue linked to the investigation by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) against allegations of corruption that involved officials of the United Nations, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor published Monday.

The response of the three countries answers letters from the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights on its decision to suspend additional funding to UNRWA .

Swiss Foreign Minister, Ignacio Cassis indicated in a letter that his country's decision is a standard administrative action reflected the duty of the Swiss Foreign Ministry to emphasize its responsible management of public money.

According to Cassis's letter, UNRWA is an important multilateral partner for Switzerland in the Middle East. It supported UNRWA's budget by 19 million Swiss francs in early January 2019 and paid its annual contribution to the agency's budget  of about 2 million Swiss francs.

He explained that Switzerland informed the United Nations of its hope to complete the investigation as soon as possible in a transparent manner, and that it is in constant contact with other donors to UNRWA, and will decide on the actions to be taken based on the results of the investigation, or according to any actions by the United Nations.

The Secretary General of the Belgian Foreign Ministry, Bruno van der Bloem, affirmed in the letter that his country considers UNRWA as an important partner, and that the Agency provides basic services to Palestinian refugees and helps hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families in several fields such as education.

"The interruption of UNRWA services could be fatal for thousands of Palestinians, and we are awaiting the results of the internal investigation by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services, which we hope will clarify in the near term the nature of the allegations," said the Belgian Foreign Ministry's Secretary General in his letter to the Monitor.

The Belgian official pointed out that his country paid its fixed contribution for 2019 amounting to (6.25) million euros, and also provided an additional (5.35) million euros to the Agency, but has not yet been disbursed.

The Monitor explained that the Netherlands has expressed keen interest in UNRWA's humanitarian work and is constantly monitoring whether its support is being used more efficiently and is aimed at the core humanitarian tasks of the needs of Palestine refugees and the stability of the region.

Gerard Stijs, Director of the Department of Multilateral Human Rights and the Dutch human rights activist, said in his letter that it was in the interest of UNRWA and its beneficiaries to clarify the truth about allegations of mismanagement and to resume full focus on the implementation of the Agency's important work.

The Euro-Mediterranean warned earlier of serious consequences of the reduction of international support for UNRWA, which depends on voluntary contributions of its budget.

It explained that the danger does not only affect the relief services for Palestinian refugees, but also their right of return. The Agency's existence has been linked to the provision of services to Palestinian refugees until reaching a just solution to their cause in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which stipulates their right to return to the lands from which they were displaced during the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict and the establishment of the State of Israel.

There are more than 5.2 million registered Palestinian refugees, the majority of whom live in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

According to the monitor, two-thirds of the Palestinian refugees depend mainly on UNRWA's assistance.

It  pointed out that UNRWA has gone through many historical stages and issued many positive reports on its work regarding the application of occupational safety standards, as it provides services to more than five million refugees.