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UNRWA Chief in Persian Gulf Fundraising Trip for Embattled Agency

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. AP
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. AP

Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner General for UNRWA, is reportedly in the Persian Gulf to raise funds for his embattled agency considering the recent suspension of funding by several Western nations.

A U.N. spokesperson stated that the commissioner will pay official visits to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Kuwait.

The curtailment of financing to the 75-year-old agency comes as a recent Israeli intelligence report accused UNRWA of employing and harboring individuals that participated in the October massacre in southern Israel.

The information provided by Jerusalem specifically alleges that as many as 10 percent of persons employed by the foreign-funded group are members of the Hamas terrorist organization, and that at least 12 of its associates directly took part in the murder, rape, and abduction that accompanied the invasion.

The release of the accusations by Israel eventuated 'temporary' sanctioning by Austria, Canada, Germany, Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The U.S. and Germany have traditionally been the largest UNRWA donors.

As a result of a reported $440 million deficit that the new actions bring, Lazzarini warned that he may have to cease operations at the end of February.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for UNRWA to be dissolved and replaced with an aid provider that is not affiliated with terrorism.

In response to the controversy, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres has appointed former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna to investigate the allegations. 

Related Story: More Countries Suspend Aid to UNRWA After Allegations Employees Aided Attack on Israel

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