A scandal in the already financially hit United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) rocked the agency this quarter. A leaked report alleged sexual misconduct and abuse of power from the UNRWA leadership, including by the UNRWA commissioner general Pierre Krähenbühl. Krähenbühl is accused of being away from his office on travel for 28-29 days a month, spending excessive funds on an UNRWA employee because of an intimate personal relation to them, among other issues. The report, which was leaked to Al Jazeera and made public on 7/29, was said to have been sent to UN Secretary-General António Guterres back in December 2018. The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Belgium, within days of the report, suspended their contributions to UNRWA. UNRWA announced that the agency regretted the countries’ decision and that an investigation into the issue was ongoing.
Several contributions were made to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the UNRWA this quarter. The PA received $25.7 million from Finland, Ireland, Norway, and Germany for the education sector. The European Union contributed with $28.64 million to the PA to help pay for August salaries and pensions for civil servants as the PA continues to face a financial crisis (see Intra-Palestinian Dynamics).
The UNRWA received $2.28 million from Austria earmarked for health service in the occupied Palestinian territories on 7/22. On 7/29, the United Arab Emirates contributed $50 million to the UNRWA. Mercy USA for Aid and Development donated $300,000 to the UNRWA on 9/24 for visually impaired students in Gaza.
Additionally, China donated $15 million for various projects in the West Bank and Gaza, including projects focused on education, infrastructure, and energy.