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Monday, December 16, 2019 01:09:47 PM
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Head of UN agency for Palestinian refugees resigns

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Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), speaks at a press conference in Amman, Jordan.

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08th-Nov-2019       
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AP, United Nations :
The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees resigned on Wednesday following a preliminary internal investigation that raised "management issues," reflecting concerns over allegations of possible sexual misconduct, nepotism and other abuses of authority at the agency.
The allegations in a confidential U.N. ethics office report came amid a financial crisis for the agency, sparked by the unprecedented loss of all funding from the United States, its largest donor. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Pierre Krahenbuhl, commissioner-general of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, submitted his resignation, effective immediately, hours after Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had placed him on "administrative leave." The U.N. chief thanked him "for his commitment and dedication" to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, known as UNRWA, and to Palestinian refugees, Dujarric said.
The spokesman said the initial findings of the investigation by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services, known as OIOS, "exclude fraud or misappropriation of operational funds by the commissioner-general."
Dujarric said Krahenbuhl was placed on leave to further clarify the managerial issues "so that a final determination can be made, and any appropriate action taken." He said later that the OIOS investigation was continuing. Guterres had already appointed Christian Saunders to act as officer-in-charge of UNRWA, during Krahenbuhl's leave with orders to implement a plan to strengthen the agency's management, oversight and accountability.
Saunders, a Briton, had been appointed as UNRWA's acting deputy commissioner-general as the revelations first emerged. He began his U.N. career in 1989 with UNRWA in Gaza and was most recently U.N. assistant secretary-general for supply chain management.
UNRWA earlier Wednesday announced that Krahenbuhl had temporarily stepped aside, saying the OIOS investigation turned up "a number of areas that required strengthening." UNRWA was established to aid the 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes during the war surrounding Israel's establishment in 1948. It now provides education, health care, food and other services to 5.5 million refugees, their children and grandchildren in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

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