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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
28 August 2015



ALLEGATIONS OF NEUTRALITY VIOLATIONS UNFOUNDED

28 August 2015

Statement by Chris Gunness, UNRWA Spokesman

UNRWA has looked into a recent accusation related to offensive posts on a Facebook page claiming to represent the UNRWA Rameh School in Syria and has concluded that the Facebook page in question is an impostor page. The Rameh School in Syria has been closed since 2012 and has been used as a shelter for people displaced by the conflict. There is no evidence that the impostor Facebook page, which uses UNRWA’s name without UNRWA’s permission, or the postings on it, are in any way linked to UNRWA or to UNRWA staff members.  Nevertheless, we complained to Facebook about the impostor page and the concerned page has been taken down. 

We have also looked into an allegation of a neutrality violation in the occupied Palestinian territory involving a Facebook posting and have found no evidence the staff member was involved in the posting. The posting on Facebook appears to have been designed to look as if it was posted by an UNRWA staff member but there is no evidence that any UNRWA staff member was involved. In addition we have recently written to Facebook about a third case where we discovered another impostor UNRWA account, claiming to represent the Agency, which we have also requested should be removed. In the last year, upon UNRWA’s request, Facebook has removed or disabled access to over 90 pages and groups using UNRWA’s name and/or our logo without authorization.

We always investigate credible reports of neutrality violations by our staff and take appropriate action, including disciplinary action where violations by UNRWA staff members are established.  Donor satisfaction in our implementation of this policy is a matter of public record. For details of the broad range of activities and frameworks UNRWA has in place to safeguard our neutrality, please go to:

http://www.unrwa.org/resources/about-unrwa/unrwa-and-neutrality

Our position on racism is clear. We condemn racism in all its forms and consider the posts on the impostor Facebook page claiming to represent the UNRWA Rameh School in Syria as unacceptable.
I would again appeal to all organisations and individuals to give us time to make proper investigations before they go public with false accusations.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile:
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office:
+972 (0)2 589 0267
c.gunness@unrwa.org

Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications & Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile:
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office:
+972 (0)2 589 0724
s.mshasha@unrwa.org

http://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/official-statements/allegations-neutrality-violations-unfounded


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