The Canadian government is “concerned” by allegations of wrongdoing at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, an official said Wednesday following a report of misconduct within the Palestinian relief group.
Canada has contributed $110 million to UNRWA since 2016, when the Liberals reversed a 2010 decision by the previous Conservative government to stop funding the agency over its alleged links to Hamas.
Allegations revealed this week by Al Jazeera accused UNWRA’s senior management of being “dysfunctional” and engaging in “misconduct, nepotism, retaliation … and other abuses of authority.”
UNRWA’s management has denied the allegations.
“The Government is concerned by the allegations of wrongdoing within UNRWA,” said Barbara Harvey, a Global Affairs Canada spokesperson.
“The UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services is currently conducting an investigation into these allegations. Canada expects that the process that the UN and UNRWA are following to investigate and address any wrongdoing is rigorous and fair.
“We value accountability and transparency and we will review the outcome of the investigation.”
Switzerland and the Netherlands suspended their funding to UNRWA in response to the investigations. But Harvey said Canada “has met its current funding obligations and has no new funding obligations currently pending.”
A $50-million contribution “over two years” announced last October by the then-International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has already been spent.
Simon Jefferies, spokesperson for Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, said the Tories would “immediately withdraw Canadian funding from UNRWA.”
Canadian Jewish organizations, which have long raised concerns about UNRWA, urged the government to hold off its support for the agency until the investigation was completed.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said UNRWA had a “disturbing record” and called for a “total moratorium on new funding for this tainted agency until a full investigation is completed and real change is implemented.”
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B’nai Brith Canada called the allegations “further evidence of why Canadian taxpayers should not be footing the bill for this organization in its current state” and also supported a suspension of funding.
“While supporting Palestinians most in need is a laudable goal, there is abundant evidence that UNRWA schools are indoctrinating Palestinian children toward antisemitism and eternal war, rather than peace and tolerance,” said CEO Michael Mostyn.
The United States cut off UNRWA last year, calling it “irredeemably flawed.” But since the investigation was disclosed this week, China and Kuwait have both contributed to the agency.