The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has taken action in light of recent events by appointing an independent inspection group to scrutinize the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). This decision comes in the wake of suspicions that personnel from the agency may have been involved in the October 7 massacre. The inspection group will be led by Catherine Colonnade, who formerly served as France’s foreign minister.
Amidst these developments, Israel, despite recommendations from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), is seemingly moving towards disbanding its collaboration with the UNRWA.
In an official statement from the Secretary General’s office, the tasks and objectives of the independent inspection group were laid out in detail. The statement emphasized that the group will investigate whether the UNRWA is exercising every possible measure to ensure neutrality. The agency will also be examined on how it responds to allegations of violations when they take place.
The statement further outlined that the inspection group is expected to suggest recommendations that could enhance and fortify the existing mechanisms and procedures. The objective is to ensure these procedures are better designed to serve their purpose, while keeping in mind the operational, political, and security contexts in which the agency operates.
The inspection group will commence its work on February 14. The leader of the group, Colonnade, is expected to present an interim report by the end of March. A final report will be submitted by the end of April. The Secretary General’s office added that the report will be made available to the public.
In addition to the independent inspection, the UN Office of Internal Oversight is currently conducting its own investigation into the allegations that 12 UNRWA employees may have been actively involved in the October 7 Hamas attack. The announcement stressed that the success of this investigation will greatly depend on the cooperation of the Israeli authorities, who initially raised these allegations.