After claims that certain employees of the refugee agency were complicit in the Hamas assaults on Israel on October 7, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations promised on Sunday to hold accountable “any U.N. employee participating in acts of violence.”
Yet, after some nations stopped paying the United Nations refugee agency for Palestinians (UNRWA), Guterres pleaded with states to keep on supporting the organization.
The U.N. head issued a statement saying, “Any U.N. employee complicit in acts of terror will be held responsible, including via criminal prosecution.” “In accordance with the Secretariat’s standard processes for such collaboration, the Secretariat is ready to collaborate with a competent authority entitled to prosecute the persons.”
In addition, he stated, “It is not right to penalize the tens of thousands of men and women who serve for UNRWA, many of whom are in some of the riskiest conditions for humanitarian workers. They have to provide for the extremely poor communities they serve.”
The head of the United Nations provided information on the UNRWA employees charged with the “abhorrent alleged activities” in his first direct remarks on the matter. He stated that out of the twelve people involved, nine had been fired, one had been declared deceased, and the names of the other two were still being investigated.
After Israel’s accusations, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Finland joined the US, Australia, and Canada in halting money to the relief organization, which is a vital source of support for those living in Gaza.
“I urgently call to the states that have ceased their contributions to, at the very least, guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s activities,” Guterres stated, adding that “although I appreciate their concerns—I was myself shocked by these claims”