Belgium reinstates support to UNRWA

Belgium will reinstate its support for UNRWA, states Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo. UNRWA has been thoroughly screened in recent months and the organisation has been given a new Commissioner General on duty. Other international donors are also reaffirming their support.

At the beginning of August, Minister De Croo suspended a payment of 5,350,000 euros after stories had arisen about fraud and mismanagement at UNRWA. Together with other international donors, Belgium insisted on a thorough review of UNRWA.

In recent months, the Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the UN's internal audit service, has carried out a thorough internal evaluation to determine whether UNRWA meets the highest standards in terms of professionalism, transparency and efficiency. In the meantime, the audit excluded the allegations of fraud and gave rise to a new management plan.

Following the resignation of UNRWA's chief executive and the appointment of Christian Saunders as acting Commissioner General, Belgium is now deciding to reinstate its support for UNRWA.

With its decision, Belgium joins other international donors such as the Netherlands, who are also reaffirming their support. The European Union and Germany also reaffirmed their support for UNRWA this week.

UNRWA is the United Nations agency that for 70 years has provided assistance to some 5.5 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. The agency is largely dependent on voluntary contributions from states and has been facing a serious financial crisis for several years, jeopardising its services, including the organisation of education.