The International Committee of the Red Cross has announced that it has appointed Pierre Krahenbuhl, who was dismissed from the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) amid controversy, to be its new director-general.
The UNRWA has been a source of controversy itself in recent years, particularly since the Hamas terror attacks of October 7th rocked the nation of Israel. The UNRWA has been accused in recent years of distributing materials that glorify terrorism, and the organization’s relationship with terror group Hamas came under additional scrutiny recently when UNRWA tweeted that Hamas had misappropriated aid materials intended for Palestinian refugees, only to later retract the tweet without adequate explanation.
Krahenbuhl’s tenure at the head of UNRWA was particularly turbulent. Krahenbuhl was effectively forced out in 2019 amid an internal investigation that accused him of ethical lapses and mismanagement – accusations that Krahenbuhl strongly denied. The internal investigation largely concluded that Krahenbuhl was innocent of the charges against him.
Krahenbuhl has a lengthy history of working in high level positions with the ICRC, which has itself come under increased scrutiny for its alleged willingness to turn a blind eye to the murderous activity of terror groups, including Hamas. ICRC now faces a lawsuit in Israeli court which accuses the aid organization of refusing to provide aid in a proper fashion to the hostages which are currently being held by Hamas in violation of international law. A spokesman for ICRC responded to the lawsuit by saying that the Red Cross has “been meeting with Hamas at all levels and undertaking humanitarian diplomacy efforts to gain access to people being held, to be able to visit them and bring the necessary items, like medicines.”
Additionally, since the eruption of hostilities in Israel, the Red Cross has overwhelmingly criticized the Israeli government while largely ignoring the human rights abuses perpetrated by Hamas in its territory.