Previously we discussed four BBC News website reports on the topic of suspensions of funding to UNRWA following allegations that some of its employees were involved in the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel:
On January 31st the BBC News website published a fifth report on that topic which was written by Patrick Jackson and headlined “Israel Gaza: UN warning that aid system could collapse if UNRWA funding is withheld”. The report opens:
“Top UN officials have warned that the withdrawal of funding for its main aid agency in Gaza could lead to the “collapse of the humanitarian system”.
They spoke out after the US, UK and other countries halted funding over the alleged role of some UN staff in the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel.”
Having quoted part of a January 30th press briefing by the US State Department spokesman, Jackson goes on to cite several “top UN officials”, including its Secretary General and a spokesperson from the agency under investigation.
“UN Secretary General António Guterres has said a full independent investigation into UNRWA is under way,
A UNRWA spokesperson has said that if funding is not resumed, the agency will not be able to continue its operations beyond the end of February.”
Jackson continues with quotes from and a link to a statement put out by a UN committee:
“”The allegations of involvement of several UNRWA staff in the heinous attacks on Israel on 7 October are horrifying,” a statement by the UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee says.
“As the secretary-general has said, any UN employee involved in acts of terror will be held accountable. However, we must not prevent an entire organisation from delivering on its mandate to serve people in desperate need.
“Withdrawing funds from UNRWA is perilous and would result in the collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza, with far-reaching humanitarian and human rights consequences in the occupied Palestinian territory and across the region,” it adds. “The world cannot abandon the people of Gaza.””
Readers are not informed that the committee in question includes representatives from bodies with a problematic record on Israel such as UN OCHA, Christian Aid, UNICEF, the secretariat of the UN HRC and UN Women – the entity which took eight whole weeks to put out a statement condemning Hamas’ use of sexual violence against Israeli women during the October 7th attacks.
Jackson’s report continues:
“Also on Tuesday, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Gaza said no other organisation can replace UNRWA due to the the [sic] agency’s “knowledge” of the population in Gaza.”
Neither were readers informed that Ms Kaag is married to a former Palestinian Authority official and PLO ambassador or that during her time at ministries in the Dutch government, payments were made to a Palestinian NGO with PFLP terrorists on its payroll.
“In July last year , the Netherlands suspended payments to a Palestinian farmers’ organization after signals that two terrorist suspects were on the payroll. At the insistence of Member of Parliament Tunahan Kuzu (DENK), D66 Minister Sigrid Kaag (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) decided two weeks ago to partially resume payments.
According to Kaag, the results of a European investigation into the dealings of Palestinian organizations took too long to appear, while the need among Palestinian farmers was great.”
Some information on Ms Kaag’s record (which includes having told the BBC in 2014 while working for another UN body that “the chemical weapons programme of Syria […] is no longer in existence”) and her views would surely have helped BBC audiences put Jackson’s uncritical and decidedly superficial amplification of statements from “top UN officials” into their appropriate perspective.