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Watchdog: UNRWA Staff Stealing and Selling Gaza Aid for Profit

A watchdog group has claimed that employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) have been actively stealing and selling aid for profit that was meant for use in Gaza.

As Fox News reports, the claim was made on Wednesday by UN Watch, a non-governmental organization (NGO) operating out of Geneva, Switzerland. The group pointed to multiple reports by Palestinian witnesses in a UNRWA chatroom, all of whom claimed that the organization’s staff members are stealing aid meant for civilian use and have been selling it. The witnesses also claim that anyone who tries to report these crimes face retaliation from UNRWA.

UN Watch’s report also accuses UNRWA Commissioner-General Philipe Lazzarini of “turning a blind eye” to corruption in his ranks. Lazzarini had recently demanded that countries begin sending more direct cash payments to Gaza rather than aid, claiming that although “there is more food available, it still does not mean that the food is accessible.”

UNRWA has also been accused of anti-Israel sentiment and voicing support for Hamas, the Islamic terrorist organization which carried out the October 7th attack against Israel last year, which led to the deaths of over 1,400 Israeli citizens. The aforementioned UNRWA chatroom is run by former UNRWA employee Haitham al-Sayyed, who was fired in 2016 after he called out the UNRWA for hiding an agency-sponsored map that denied Israel’s existence.

“While Haitham al-Sayyed was supposedly fired from UNRWA, he is still considered by many in the chat rooms as an important figure in the organization who holds sway with the senior administration,” said UN Watch. The report went on to claim that some employees, “frustrated by inaction and even complicity of senior staff in these thefts,” have confessed to al-Sayyed “in the hope that he can get UNRWA’s top officials to listen.”

One UNRWA employee, Mohammed Musa al-Sawalhi, took to the chatroom on February 20th to give his account of several UNRWA employees stealing aid and stashing it in their own houses.

“Eighty percent of employees in the shelters have no morals or dignity,” said al-Sawalhi, who said that the family of one director was captured stealing aid on video.

In response to the bombshell accusations, a spokesman for UNRWA released a statement saying that the group saw this report and are looking at what are very serious claims. We will provide an update when and if we have more information.”

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

Photo: KHAN YOUNIS, GAZA - OCTOBER 16: Palestinian citizens inspect their home destroyed during Israeli raids in the southern Gaza Strip on October 16, 2023 in Khan Yunis, Gaza. Gazans are evacuating to the south following warnings to do so from the Israeli government, ahead of an expected Israeli ground offensive. Israel has sealed off Gaza and launched sustained retaliatory air strikes, which have killed at least 2,500 people with more than 400,000 displaced, after a large-scale attack by Hamas. On October 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel from Gaza by land, sea, and air, killing over 1,300 people and wounding around 2,800. Israeli soldiers and civilians have also been taken hostage by Hamas and moved into Gaza. The attack prompted a declaration of war by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the announcement of an emergency wartime government. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)