The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
The Secretary-General is speaking right now at a ministerial meeting for the support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and he will emphasize in the meeting the role that UNRWA has played as a force for stability in the region. He will thank the Member States for their generosity in helping them to overcome its financial crisis last year and urge continued support for UNRWA.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Thank you. Thank you, sir. I have a very quick question. As UNRWA is increasingly becoming under a great deal of pressure in terms of raising funds and so on, there are also charges of corruption and so on. I want… I want you to share with us if there is anything, what is the UN, what is the Secretariat or the Secretary‑General is doing about ensuring that UNRWA will continue to get the funds needed? And second, do you believe that there has been some sort of a, you know, maybe an unintended effort to undermine UNRWA by these charges that have been levelled against them?
Spokesman: I think there are two separate things. First of all, for the Secretary‑General, UNRWA does incredible work and it is a force of good and stability in the region. Children throughout its area of operations are depending on UNRWA for strong and quality education, access to health care, et cetera. He will continue to push for full funding for UNRWA as it goes about its work. As you know, there is an investigation going on. The Secretary‑General will act when he gets the conclusions of that investigation. As you also know, following the departure of the Deputy Commissioner General, he sent Christian Saunders to be the new deputy and Mr. Saunders is there and working. Mr. Klein?
Question: As a follow‑up, number one, was the Secretary‑General planning to discuss the current status of the internal investigation of the alleged UNRWA corruption at the ministerial meeting that you referenced in your remarks?
Spokesman: The focus, it’s not for him to discuss the status. I mean, there is an investigation going on. He will get the results of it and he will act. He has…
Question: But, certain… I’m sorry, certain countries, as you know, have already indicated they are going to suspend their donations, so they are related?
Spokesman: Right, the Secretary‑General’s message is that UNRWA’s work continues. UNRWA’s funding, like funding for all UN agencies, is under very close, you know, review by auditors and it’s all very public and transparent. We very much hope that Member States will continue funding UNRWA. And when the Secretary‑General gets the results of the investigations, he will act.
Question: But, secondly though, why didn’t the Secretary‑General accept the UNRWA’s own internal ethics organization’s recommendation that the alleged perpetrators, including the Commissioner General, they recommended their removal, or at least why didn’t he suspend them temporarily pending the outcome of the investigation?
Spokesman: I think the Secretary‑General acted in the best interests of UNRWA and that the work it does. Yes, sir. I’m happy to hear from you, but our viewers… no, no, our viewers need to hear from you, so you need to use the microphone. It’s not the State Department. You need to do more work here.
Question: I just wanted to ask you if you still have confidence in the Commissioner General?
Spokesman: Yes. He continues to serve as Commissioner General.
Question: And you expect him to continue to serve?
Spokesman: I’m not in the speculation business. Yes, sir?
Question: I can do that. Do you have any… do you have the numbers regarding the UNRWA donor meeting, how much they need?
Spokesman: We will get… I think we will have a clearer picture right after the… after the event, which is going on now.
Question: Are you disappointed that the United States is not speaking at this donor conference?
Spokesman: Member States are free to come. I think the United States expressed… in the last year or so expressed its position on UNRWA. The United States had historically been a strong supporter and strong funder of UNRWA, but I think their position and their policies is not a secret. Thank you.
For information media. Not an official record.
Document Sources: Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Global Communications, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
Subject: Assistance, Refugees and displaced persons
Publication Date: 26/09/2019
URL source: https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/db190926.doc.htm