Dutch suspend grant after UNRWA ethics probe

Netherlands follows Switzerland in suspending contribution to UN agency following ethics probe alleging "sexual misconduct" and corruption.

AFP ,

Pierre Krahenbuhl, UNRWA Commissioner-General
Pierre Krahenbuhl, UNRWA Commissioner-General
REUTERS

The Netherlands suspended its contribution Wednesday to the UN agency for Palestinian Arab refugees pending the outcome of a probe into alleged mismanagement and abuses of authority by the agency's top management.

The Dutch decision comes a day after a similar move by Switzerland, which said it would suspend additional contributions.

UN investigators have opened an inquiry after an internal report alleged "serious ethical abuses" at the highest level at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

As one of the agency's main European donors the Netherlands "expressed... its great concern and asked for clarification," the Dutch foreign ministry said in a statement.

Sigrid Kaag, foreign trade and development cooperation minister, "would like to hear what steps the UN plans to take based on the outcome of the investigation," it added.

Therefore "Minister Kaag has decided to put this year's contribution on hold until we have received a satisfactory response from the UN in New York," it said.

The Netherlands is the UNRWA's fourth-largest EU donor country and planned to contribute 13 million euros ($14.4 million) this year.

The Dutch government "is also in consultation with other donors," the ministry said, without giving further details.

Senior management at the UNRWA engaged in "sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain" said the report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

The report alleged that UNRWA's top official, Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl was involved in a relationship with his senior adviser, appointed in 2015 after an "extreme fast-track" process.

UNRWA said it was cooperating fully with the investigation, while Krahenbuhl, in a statement to AFP said "if the current investigation... were to present findings that require corrective measures or other management actions, we will not hesitate to make them."



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