Japan donates 6 million US$ for food aid to Palestine refugees

23 July 2009

23 July 2009
East Jerusalem

Japan has announced that it will contribute USD 6 million (Yen 600 million) to UNRWA’s regular food programme for 2009 to 2010. The programme is for the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in the five fields of UNRWA operations (the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank).

"With this contribution, Japan and its people are once again demonstrating their strong commitment to the well-being of Palestine refugees", said UNRWA Commissioner-General, Karen AbuZayd. " I would like to extend my warm thanks to the government and people of Japan".

An agreement was signed on July 16, 2009 at the UNRWA Women’s Programme Center in Marka Camp, Jordan, by H.E. Mr. Tetsuo Shioguchi, Ambassador of Japan, and UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd. A grant agreement was also concluded between Mr. Shigeru Okamoto, the Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Jordan Office and Ms AbuZayd. The Japanese Development Agency, JICA has been designated as implementing agency for part of Grant Aid which includes food aid programme through international organizations. JICA has supported Palestinian refugees continuously over many years through volunteer work and vocational training.

Japan’s assistance to the Palestinian refugees through UNRWA, which began in 1953, has amounted to more than USD 560 million, including Food Aid. Japan is among a small number of donors that regularly contribute to UNRWA’s regular food programme.

The Japanese Government  recently contributed USD 3 million for food aid and in-kind donations of plastic sheets, sleeping mats and blankets worth USD 1 million, to the Agency’s Flash Appeal for Gaza.

Ms AbuZayd set this contribution in the context of UNRWA’s overall financial situation. "This donation comes at a time of particular financial hardship for UNRWA", she said. "For the coming year, we have a funding shortfall in real terms of about one hundred million dollars". The Commissioner-General said increased donor support was urgently needed to enable UNRWA to improve refugee lives and enhance their living conditions.


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 more than US$ 106  million.

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