Statement on UNDP/PAPP, attributable to UNDP SpokespersonAug 9, 2016
On 03 July 2016, Mr. Waheed Al Bursh, a contractor of the United Nations Development Programme/Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP/PAPP) was detained at Israeli passport control while entering Gaza through the Erez crossing. It is alleged by the Israeli authorities that Mr. Al Bursh complied with a request from a senior Hamas individual to transport 300 tons of rubble from a UNDP rubble removal project site to a Hamas-run location at the Northern Gaza Hamas-operated port.
UNDP has zero tolerance for wrongdoing in all of its programmes and projects. UNDP is greatly concerned by the allegation from the Israeli authorities with respect to the UNDP contractor who has been providing professional services within the rubble removal project. The rubble removal project was established to respond to the consequences of the 2014 hostilities in Gaza. Through this project, UNDP has removed more than one million tons of rubble as well as 2,761 unexploded ordnances. The allegations concerning Mr. Al Bursh by the Israeli authorities refer to 300 tons of the more than one million tons removed, or 7 truckloads out of a total of nearly 26,000.
UNDP would like to reassure its partners, donors and stakeholders that it has robust measures in place to ensure that the rubble, which is removed and crushed, goes to its intended purpose and has been transferred to specific locations with the request and approval of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing.
UNDP is committed to the highest standards of transparency and accountability and therefore in light of this development, UNDP is conducting a thorough internal review of the processes and circumstances surrounding the allegation.
UNDP will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities in this matter.
UNDP stands behind the professional work of its staff and personnel, specifically in areas as complex and challenging as the rubble removal project, where the risk of endangering civilians and staff is high if strict measures and operating procedures are not adequately followed.
The rubble removal project is considered essential for the recovery and reconstruction of Gaza following the conflict.
Mr. Al Bursh should be accorded all due legal process and has the right to a fair trial.