UNRWA chief at center of corruption investigation

"People were promoted by how close they were, [and they] acted vengefully against members of the organization and exploited their power in many ways," according to the report.

By MAARIV ONLINE
July 29, 2019 11:48
1 minute read.
Pierre Krahenbuhl Commissioner-General of the UNRWA attends a news conference in Geneva

Pierre Krahenbuhl Commissioner-General of the UNRWA attends a news conference in Geneva. (photo credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE / REUTERS)

A report by the ethics department of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has uncovered grave misconduct and corruption in the agency, which deals with Palestinian refugees throughout the Middle East, West Bank and Jerusalem.

The report, prepared by the ethics department of the agency and published by Al Jazeera, points towards the commissioner-general of the agency, Pierre Krahenbuhl, as the focus of the corruption, and accuses him of centralizing management, exploiting his power to promote associates and neglecting his role in favor of extensive travel around the world. The report was transferred to the UN Internal Audit Department, where they refused to comment on the investigation since it has not yet been completed.
The report claims that Krahenbuhl and his close circle acted "inappropriately." 


"People were promoted by how close they were, [and they] acted vengefully against members of the organization and exploited their power in many ways" starting from 2015, a year after Krahenbuhl was appointed, according to the report. The economic crisis in the organization following the cessation of US aid was also used as an excuse for centralizing power in the hands of the commissioner-general and those close to him. The report mentions that due to this behavior, an environment of low morale developed in the organization, alongside fears of revenge, bullying and secret-keeping that led to the collapse of the regular management of UNRWA.


Despite the cessation of US aid, Krahenbuhl conducted many trips to Gulf states where he enjoyed many months of traveling for business. Senior adviser to the commissioner-general, Maria Mohammadi, traveled together with the commissioner-general and, according to the report, their relationship was more than just professional.


Krahenbuhl responded to the Al Jazeera report and claimed that "if the UN investigation finds room for corrections in the organization, I will not hesitate to execute them, although all claims that I or the management of the organization don't relate to our roles with the seriousness demanded are baseless and mistaken. It is on us to examine the findings of the report when it comes out, and not to rely on rumors. The accusations are false and fabricated."


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