UN Sec-Gen. Appoints Christian Saunders as UNRWA officer-in-charge

NEW YORK, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday appointed Christian Saunders as UNRWA Officer-In-Charge for the interim period pending the completion of inquiry into management-related matters at the UN agency.

The findings, reached so far by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), revealed management issues which relate specifically to the UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl. The Commissioner-General has stepped aside until the completion of the process, according to a statement by the UN Secretary-General’s office. Over the last few months, UNRWA has initiated an internal review of its governance, management and accountability functions, so as to ensure it practices the highest standards of professionalism, transparency and efficiency.

The review revealed a number of areas which required strengthening, and the agency has already commenced corrective action and will be pursuing further initiatives and improvements over the coming months.

UNRWA is grateful for the critical support of UN Member States and other partners around the world and is committed to ensuring donor funds are utilized in the most efficient and effective manner in support of the Agency’s critical mission, the statement noted.

The Secretary-General calls upon donors and partners to commit to the transfer critical funding payments to enable UNRWA to bridge its significant financial deficit and ensure it is able to carry out its unique and vital role in in serving over 5.5 million Palestine refugees, it added.

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty.

UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall.

UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s program budget, the statement added.

Its programs and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation.

Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

Source: Kuwait News Agency