Tuesday, February 17, 2009

PA accuses UNRWA of illegally selling aid

From Ma'an:
UNRWA has begun investigating PA Ministry of National Economy accusations that the agency has been importing private-sector goods under its name behind the back of the ministry, Undersecretary of the Ramallah-based government office Nasser As-Sarraj said on Monday night.

As-Sarraj, part of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry in Gaza not to be confused with the separate Ministry of National economy of the de facto Hamas government in the same area, said UNRWA has been caught selling rice and sugar to local merchants without coordinating with the ministry first.

When contacted, UNRWA spokespeople said they had not heard of any such accusations and were unaware of any ongoing investigations of Gaza staff.

As-Sarraj said UNRWA employees were involved in bringing truckloads of goods into the Gaza Strip under title of the agency and selling them to the private sector, and called the act “illegal.” He said he brought the accusations to UNRWA’s attention Monday night.

We seized three truckloads of rice and sugar [being sold to] merchants of the private sector through UNRWA, and the [PA] coordination committee had no idea. UNRWA does not have the right to use its special position [in the Strip] to engage with the private sector.”
Whether or not these accusations are true, the very fact that they exist is evidence that UNRWA in Gaza is firmly on Hamas' side.