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UN chief names new head of beleaguered Palestinian refugee agency

UN chief names new head of beleaguered Palestinian refugee agency

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Swiss humanitarian expert Philippe Lazzarini to head the beleaguered UN agency for Palestinian refugees. The UN chief made the announcement on Wednesday following consultations with the Advisory Commission of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Near East, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The UNRWA has faced a financial crisis following the cutoff of US funding and a crisis of confidence after its previous leader was accused of abusing his authority.

Lazzarini will replace former UNRWA commissioner-general Pierre Krahenbuhl, who resigned in November following a preliminary internal UN investigation. It raised “management issues,” reflecting concerns over allegations of possible sexual misconduct, nepotism and other abuses of authority at the agency, AP reported.

The allegations, in a confidential UN ethics office report, came amid an unprecedented financial crisis for UNRWA, sparked by the loss of all funding from the US, its largest donor. The US gave $360 million to UNRWA in 2017, but only $60 million in 2018, and nothing last year or so far this year.