UN Palestinian Refugee Agency Head Steps Down Amid Misconduct Allegations
The commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, Pierre Krähenbühl, has resigned, pending the results of an investigation into reports of “unsatisfactory conduct” among officials, the agency said on Wednesday. UNRWA provides basic services such as education, health care, and housing to more than 5 million registered refugees in the Palestinian territories, as well as Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Krähenbühl will be replaced by his deputy, Christian Saunders, in the interim period. While the substance of the allegations has not officially been made public, a leaked internal ethics report referred to “credible and corroborated” allegations that senior management, including Krähenbühl, engaged in serious ethical abuses, including “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives.” UNRWA has been under severe financial pressure since last year, when the US, its biggest donor, halted its annual aid of $360 million to the organization. Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland have also cut funding to the organization in light of the reports of financial and ethical violations.