Thursday, February 05, 2009


The pressure is mounting for the reform of UNRWA in accorance with its mandate, particularly since the publication of a scathing report by its former chief attorney, James Lindsay - UNRWA staff not tested for terror ties.

"UNRWA has taken very few steps to detect and eliminate terrorists from the ranks of its staff or its beneficiaries, and no steps at all to prevent members of terrorist organizations such as Hamas from joining its staff," Lindsay writes.

The additonal scrutiny placed on UN officials in Gaza whose neutrality in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is being increasingly questioned has led to some surprising revelations from UN personnel.

United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Chief John Holmes blasted Hamas last week for its "cynical" use of civilian facilities during recent hostilities in the Gaza Strip - Top UN official blasts Hamas for 'cynical' use of civilian facilities.

"The reckless and cynical use of civilian installations by Hamas and indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian populations are clear violations of international humanitarian law," Holmes told the UN Security Council."

Now, we have a rare confession from UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness who has admitted that Hamas police in Gaza have seized thousands of blankets and food parcels meant for needy residents - UN says Hamas seized Gaza food aid and blankets.

"Spokesman Christopher Gunness says Hamas police raided a U.N. warehouse in Gaza City on Tuesday evening. He says police snatched 3,500 blankets and more than 400 food parcels."

There have been numerous claims made about misappropriation of humanitarian supplies being delivered into Gaza by Hamas - all of them usually denied or ignored by UNRWA officials. Gunness claims this is the first instance of such theft (and pigs have been know to fly over UN compounds in Gaza too).

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