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24 Dec, 2023 17:08

Disgraced ex-UN official takes over Red Cross

Pierre Krahenbuhl was accused of using the organization's money to take his married girlfriend traveling
Disgraced ex-UN official takes over Red Cross

The Red Cross announced on Friday that the disgraced former head of the UN's agency for Palestine, Pierre Krahenbuhl, will take over as director-general of the organization. Krahenbuhl was ousted from the middle-eastern role amid allegations of sexual misconduct, nepotism, and other abuses of authority.

“The Assembly of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has appointed Pierre Krahenbuhl as the organization’s next director-general,” it said in a statement. “He is recognized as a strategic and purpose-driven leader with deep organizational experience and dedication to the ICRC.”

Krahenbuhl, a Swiss national, has worked with the ICRC since 1991, and oversaw the organization’s response to armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and other countries. He was appointed commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in 2014.

The UNRWA launched an internal investigation into alleged misconduct by Krahenbuhl in 2019. Along with other senior figures in the organization, Krahenbuhl was accused of mismanaging funds and appointing personal friends to key positions. As commissioner-general, Krahenbuhl was accused of inventing a job for his married girlfriend and using agency funds to take her on work trips with him.

The scandal exacerbated a funding crisis at UNRWA, as the US and UK dramatically cut their contributions to the agency. Krahenbuhl resigned, and was subsequently cleared of most wrongdoing.

Speaking to Swiss media following his resignation, Krahenbuhl claimed that he was a “victim of dirty politics,” and blamed an unnamed US official for ginning up the allegations to force him out of the agency.

At the time, the Israeli government and the administration of former US President Donald Trump were accusing UNRWA of anti-Israel “politicization.”