UN chief announces launch of independent panel to review UNRWA

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has announced the creation of an independent review group to assess the neutrality of the United Nations' agency that provides aid for Palestinians in Gaza.

The move follows allegations that some staff members of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, were involved in the deadly Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

Guterres said on Monday that former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna will lead the review, with cooperation from three research organizations in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

The review group is to begin its work on February 14. A final report is expected by late April.

Major donor nations have halted funding for UNRWA in response to the allegations. The agency says it may be forced to halt its operations by the end of February if funding remains suspended.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters that close to 2 million people in Gaza depend on UNRWA's assistance for their survival. He asked UN member states to show generosity and solidarity.