Middle East Monitor / March 4, 2020
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed a new Commissioner General for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Quds Net reported on Tuesday.
UN sources said that Filippo Lorenzini will take over from Christian Saunders, the acting Commissioner General since last November.
Saunders stepped in after the resignation of Pierre Krähenbühl over corruption claims at a time when UNRWA is experiencing its worst financial crisis since it was established in 1949.
The Agency is funded almost entirely by voluntary donations from UN member states.
The crisis, however, is as much political as financial. Israel has been lobbying for years to have UNRWA closed down in the hope that, by doing so, it would end the Palestinian refugee issue simply be redefining who refugees are.
As part of this campaign against UNRWA, the US administration under Donald Trump stopped all of its donations two years ago.
Palestinian refugees, like all other refugees, have a legitimate right to return to their land. In 1948, the nascent state of Israel ethnically cleansed three-quarters of a million Palestinians from their land.
Millions of them and their descendants are still registered as refugees and receive vital humanitarian aid and basic service provision from UNRWA, which Israel wants to cut entirely.