Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Japan Plans to Resume Funding for UNRWA

Fri 29 Mar 2024 | 02:20 PM
Israa Farhan

Japan announced late Thursday that it intends to soon resume its funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which it had frozen following Israel's accusation of several of the agency's employees being involved in the October 7 attack, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a release that "Japan and UNRWA confirm that they will continue to coordinate final efforts necessary to resume Japan's contribution" to the funding of the UN agency.

The statement came after a meeting held in Tokyo on Thursday between Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.

The release quoted Kamikawa emphasizing to Lazzarini the necessity for UNRWA to take "effective" measures to improve its management, enhance transparency, track its funds, and ensure the "neutrality" of its staff.

A United Nations spokesperson stated last week that the independent committee responsible for assessing UNRWA's neutrality had issued a preliminary report identifying "critical areas" that needed to be addressed.

The committee is expected to release its final report by April 20.

UNRWA has been in deep crisis since Israel accused 12 employees of the relief agency working in the Gaza Strip, out of a total of 13,000, of involvement in the attack launched by Hamas against the Israeli state on October 7.

The Israeli accusation prompted several donor countries, including the United States, to abruptly cut their funding to UNRWA, posing a threat to the agency's efforts to deliver essential aid to Gaza, where the United Nations warns of an imminent famine.

Following the Israeli accusations, the United Nations launched an internal and independent investigation, noting that Israel did not provide UNRWA with any evidence supporting its allegations.

Lazzarini accused Israel of seeking to destroy UNRWA, which employs around 30,000 people in the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, where they provide healthcare, education, and other essential services.

The October 7 attack resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,160 people in Israel, most of whom were civilians, according to a tally compiled by Agence France-Presse based on official Israeli figures.

The Israeli military operation, aimed at "eliminating" Hamas, claimed the lives of 32,500 people in Gaza, the majority of whom were civilians, according to the Ministry of Health affiliated with Hamas in the region.

Last month, Lazzarini warned that the funding crisis at UNRWA was so severe that the agency might not be able to continue its activities after March.

However, after several countries resumed or increased their funding recently, including Spain, Canada, and Australia, Lazzarini stated this week that the agency now has sufficient funding "until the end of May."