Unidentified aircraft targets IRGC and Hezbollah military camp in Iraq

An unmanned aircraft dropped explosives on a base belonging to Iran-linked Shiite paramilitary groups in northern Iraq on Friday, killing at least one person. (Screenshot/YouTube)
Updated 20 July 2019

Unidentified aircraft targets IRGC and Hezbollah military camp in Iraq

  • There was no immediate claim of responsibility
  • Iraqi military said in a statement a drone had dropped a grenade onto the base

DUBAI: An unmanned aircraft dropped explosives on a base belonging to Iran-linked Shiite paramilitary groups in northern Iraq on Friday, killing at least one person, the army and paramilitary sources said.
The Iraqi military said in a statement a drone had dropped a grenade onto the base in northern Salahuddin province, wounding at least two people, but gave no further details.
Paramilitary sources in the area and a Baghdad-based paramilitary leader said one person had been killed in the attack which took place in the early hours of Friday morning.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
A security source said two explosions hit the base, one targeting an ammunition depot belonging to an Iranian-backed group.
The incident took place amid heightened tension between the US and Iran.
Iraq is seen as a potential arena for any violent regional confrontation between the two foes because of the presence of Iran-backed Shiite Muslim paramilitary groups operating in close proximity to bases hosting US forces.
Daesh militants, also enemies of the Shiite paramilitaries, operate in the area where the base is located and in many remote areas of northern Iraq, despite the group having lost its sway over territory.
It has claimed attacks against Iraqi forces in recent months.
Several Iraqi bases hosting US forces were hit by a number of rockets a few weeks ago in unclaimed attacks in which no one was hurt. Washington is pressing Iraq's government to rein in Iran-backed paramilitary groups which it says pose a threat to US interests in Iraq.
The US has blamed Iran for attacks on several oil tankers in the Gulf. Tehran denies any involvement.


UN agency for Palestinian refugees on tenterhooks over probe

A Palestinian refugee holds a placard at a school belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the town of Sebline east of the southern Lebanese port of Saida, on March 12, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

UN agency for Palestinian refugees on tenterhooks over probe

  • UNRWA’s budget for this year is $1.2 billion, with around 90 percent of that being linked to paying for the 30,000 staff it employees, most of them teachers, doctors and nurses

BRUSSELS: The UN agency for Palestinian refugees is waiting anxiously on the outcome this month of a probe into alleged mismanagement that has dented its already severely depleted funding, one of its top officials said Monday.
The UN Relief and Works Agency hopes the results of the investigation will enable it to get past the scandal that has worsened a cash crunch threatening the school and health services it provides to 5 million Palestinians.
UNRWA’s director for West Bank operations Gwyn Lewis told AFP in Brussels: “We’re waiting with bated breath because it obviously has financial implications.”
She said the conclusions of the probe are expected to be delivered “around the end of October” to UN chief Antonio Guterres, who would then issue public and internal “follow-up steps.”
The timing is crucial as the agency’s three-year mandate is up for renewal this month, and money is tight.
UNRWA has been skating on very thin financial ice since last year, after US President Donald Trump decided to suspend, then yank entirely his country’s contribution to the agency’s budget, robbing it of its top donor.
Those woes were compounded by the allegations of abuse by the agency’s management, leading other key donors — the Netherlands and Switzerland — to snap shut their purses.
That has left the agency struggling to provide the schooling, medical and sanitary programs it runs for Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.
According to a copy of an internal UN report obtained by AFP in July, senior management at UNRWA engaged in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain.”

FASTFACT

The UN Relief and Works Agency hopes the results of the investigation will enable it to get past the scandal that has worsened a cash crunch threatening the school and health services it provides to 5 million Palestinians.

Lewis did not confirm those allegations, noting only “rumors” and leaks to the media.
“None of us have actually seen it,” she said of the report, adding: “Our sense is that it’s not about financial misappropriation or corruption, it’s linked to management and human resources issues.”
She did note that the agency’s deputy chief, Sandra Mitchell, had been replaced in August by an acting deputy commissioner-general tasked with strengthening human resources and financial oversight.
Lewis said she was in Brussels for two days of meetings with European Commission officials to shore up UNRWA’s mandate renewal and, importantly, to maintain funding.
Despite program cutbacks, the agency faces an $89 million shortfall for the rest of this year, she said, and “financial uncertainty” beyond that.
UNRWA’s budget for this year is $1.2 billion, with around 90 percent of that being linked to paying for the 30,000 staff it employees, most of them teachers, doctors and nurses. Making up for the pulled US funding was a “challenge,” she said.