Review Finds UNRWA Neutrality Claims Unsubstantiated by Israel


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An independent review into the neutrality of the UN humanitarian agency for Palestinian refugees has found that Israel still hasn’t provided any evidence to support its accusations that hundreds of UNRWA staff are members of terrorist groups.

Key Findings of the Colonna Report

The panel, led by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, said that Israel hadn’t expressed concern about anyone on UNRWA staff lists since 2011. The 48-page Colonna report said UNRWA has “robust” procedures to uphold the UN principle of neutrality and that the agency routinely shares lists of staff members with host countries for its 32,000 employees, including around 13,000 working in Gaza.

Responsibility of the International Community

Responsibility of the International Community

“I would like to stress that the international community has a responsibility in helping and supporting UNRWA in addressing neutrality issues,” said Colonna, “Globally speaking in its mission, including in helping the agency to address these difficult challenges it faces sometimes. It is a shared responsibility.”

Challenges Faced by UNRWA

The review was carried out after Israel claimed that a dozen UNRWA employees had participated in the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. Those allegations led around 15 countries – including Germany, Italy, and Austria – to cut funding to the agency, creating serious humanitarian challenges to the 2.3 million people in Gaza who often struggle to access food, water, and shelter. However, most donor countries have resumed funding in recent weeks.

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