Japan contributes US$4.3 million to UNRWA Neirab Rehabilitation Project in Aleppo

15 March 2009

15 March 2009

His Excellency Masaki Kunieda, the Japanese Ambassador to Syria, signed an agreement today with UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi for a US$ 4.3 million grant for the Neirab Rehabilitation Project, Aleppo.

The funds will be used for the construction of one school, two neighborhood blocks (i.e. 60 housing units, roads, infrastructure and outside spaces), one community centre and a range of community development activities focusing on the creation of grassroots community activities and services.

Welcoming the donation, Grandi said: "This is a further evidence of Japan‘s support for Palestine refugees and demonstrates the unique partnership between UNRWA and Japan. With this contribution, Japan is helping to give these refugees a home that they can feel proud to live in and a real sense of community. It’s a genuine contribution to the peace and stability of the region." He also expressed his profound gratitude for the generous and continued assistance from Japan and affirmed the importance of this housing project, which he described as essential in improving the living conditions of this vulnerable group. He also thanked the Syrian government for the continued efforts to support the Neirab Rehabilitation Project.

Ambassador Kunieda stressed that Japan is committed to continuing its support for Palestine refugees. "Our contribution testifies Japan‘s continued support to improve the living conditions of Palestine refugees and comes within Japan‘s peace-building scheme."

Mr. Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees in Syria expressed appreciation to the Japanese government for its assistance to UNRWA, and to the Syrian government for its overall support to Palestine refugees living in Syria.

The ceremony was attended by the Governor of Aleppo, Dr. Tamer al-Hijjeh, who underlined the continued support of the Aleppo Governorate to the Neirab Rehabilitation Project and highlighted the solidarity of the Syrian people in support of UNRWA‘s emergency appeal for Gaza.

The project, one of the biggest that UNRWA has implemented in its sixty year history, will rehabilitate the Neirab camp which houses 18,000 refugees. Neirab has some of the worst living conditions among the Agency’s 58 camps. The project, which underlines UNRWA’s commitment to community participation, involves the refugees themselves at every step of the rehabilitation process including planning and design.

Japan has been a major donor to Agency projects for many years. The Palestine refugee community in Syria has benefited from the highly successful Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteers‘ scheme and their work with UNRWA school children.

Some 4.6 million Palestine refugees in UNRWA’s five fields of operations – Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – are eligible for Agency services, including education, healthcare, social services, shelter, micro-credit loans and emergency aid. UNRWA employs nearly 30,000 staff, the vast majority of whom are Palestine refugees. UNRWA’s operations are financed almost entirely by voluntary contributions from donors.

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Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.

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