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UN appoints independent review of UNRWA amid allegations its workers joined Hamas-led attack on Israel

The United Nations has appointed an ‘independent Review Group’ to examine internal policies at the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), amid allegations some of the agency’s workers participated in the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack in Israel.

Secretary-General António Guterres and UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said Monday the group will review whether the agency is remaining neutral in foreign conflicts and is responding appropriately to allegations that this neutrality has been breached.

The inquiry comes as several countries around the world, including the United States, have suspended payments to UNRWA over Israeli allegations that 12 of its staffers assisted Hamas fighters during the attack on Israeli border communities or held Israelis hostage following the attack.

Catherine Colonna, the former minister of foreign affairs of France, will lead the inquiry, the officials said. She will work with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden, the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

The Review Group will begin work on Feb. 14 and is expected to submit its initial findings in a report to the secretary-general at the end of March.

It will submit a final report, which will be made public, by late April 2024, the U.N. said.

According to the U.N., the Review Group is tasked with satisfying four objectives. These include identifying ‘the mechanisms and procedures that the Agency currently has in place to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations or information indicating that the principle may have been breached.’

The group will also ‘ascertain how those mechanisms and procedures have, or have not, been implemented in practice and whether every practicable effort has been made to apply them to their full potential, taking into account the particular operational, political and security environment in which the Agency works.’

It will also ‘assess the adequacy of those mechanisms and procedures and whether they are fit for purpose… taking into account the particular operational, political and security context in which the Agency works,’ and to ‘make recommendations for the improvement and strengthening, if necessary, of the mechanisms and procedures that are currently in place or for the creation of new and alternative mechanisms and procedures that would be better fit for purpose.’

UNRWA, which contributes to the largest humanitarian relief effort in the Middle East, has said it is delivering life-saving assistance to roughly 2.3 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the U.S. supports ‘the work that UNRWA does,’ and called it ‘critical’ for the survival of the civilians who have been impacted by Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.  

UNRWA has warned it only has enough funding to continue its operations through the ‘end of February.’

‘If funding remains suspended, we will most likely be forced to shut down our operations by the end of February, not only in Gaza but also across the region,’ Lazzarini said in a post on X. 

The U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) is also conducting an independent external review into the allegations of UNRWA’s involvement in the Oct. 7 attack.

Fox News’ Nicholas Kalman contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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