United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has announced the formation of an independent panel in order to evaluate the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Al Jazeera reported on February 5.
The humanitarian organisation has faced criticism due to claims made by Israel that twelve of its employees were involved in the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.
The funding of the agency has been suspended by more than a dozen nations, including the US, Germany, the UK, and Sweden.
The UN announced in a statement that Catherine Colonna, a former French Foreign Minister will chair the independent panel and collaborate with three European research organisations, reported Al Jazeera.
Assessing “whether the agency is doing everything within its power to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations of serious breaches when they are made” is the investigation’s stated objective.
The panel’s reports, which include recommendations for potential “improvement and strengthening” of the agency’s systems are due to Guterres in late March for the interim report and late April for the final one, according to Al Jazeera.
This evaluation is not related to the UN’s internal investigation, which was started last month following the initial allegations against the 12 UNRWA employees.
Notably, the war between Israel and Hamas began after the latter launched an attack on the former on October 7, where around 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 250 taken hostage.
Israel then launched a counterattack on Hamas and vowed to eliminate the terrorist group. In the latest development in the ongoing war, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said on February 4 that IDF soldiers operated within a compound in Khan Younis and located AK-47 rifles, ammunition, military equipment, and technological assets. In addition, IDF troops also located RPGs inside terrorist’s residences.
(with inputs from ANI)