NZ considers suspending funding for Palestinians


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) says it will consider whether to continue funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) after a report due in October.

Allegations were made in late July against senior members of the organisation, which AFP news agency reported involving “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority for personal gain”.

Middle East media have this week reported that MFAT has already pulled its funding of the agency pending a report into the allegations – due in October.

However, MFAT clarified New Zealand’s current stance on UNRWA in response to a report from the Israel Institute of New Zealand. The Institute recently produced a report looking at MFAT’s dealings with UNRWA, much of which is based on analysis of internal MFAT documents released under the Official Information Act.

On Thursday an MFAT spokesperson confirmed to New Zealand’s 1 NEWS that media reports in the Middle East are incorrect, and said funding has not yet been formally suspended.

“The Ministry will review the findings of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report once the investigation is complete and after that point provide advice to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on future funding,” an MFAT spokesperson said.

“We expect UNRWA to cooperate fully with the investigation and to report on the investigation’s findings and recommendations.”

New Zealand has contributed a total of $2.5 million to UNRWA in the period January to June 2019, and the next core funding payment is due in March next year.

New Zealand contributed more than $6.4 million to UNRWA over the past ten years, and recently committed to adding $3 million over the next few years.


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