UNRWA Commissioner-General, Filippo Grandi, visits Japan

22 August 2011

Jerusalem
22 August 2011

Mr Grandi and Mrs OgataFilippo Grandi, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, is to visit Japan from 25 August to 31 August. On the trip, Mr Grandi will hold meetings with senior Foreign Ministry officials and with Japanese politicians who have an interest in UNRWA affairs, and will take part in a seminar co-hosted by Mrs Sadako Ogata, President of Japan‘s development agency, JICA. On the eve of his departure, Mr Grandi paid tribute to the government and people of Japan who have contributed so generously to UNRWA, despite the overwhelming needs in Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this year .

“Japan is the seventh largest donor to UNRWA’s General Fund, which provides essential services such as education for half a million Palestinian refugee children in the Middle East region. At a time of great regional upheaval, the contribution this makes cannot be underestimated. I come to Japan with gratitude from UNRWA and all the refugees we serve,” said Mr Grandi.

The Commissioner-General will also meet members of the diplomatic community in Tokyo and colleagues in the UN family, and will brief them and his Japanese hosts on the work of UNRWA, which delivers human development services in education, health, relief and social services, and provides humanitarian assistance in situations of conflict and violence, and in their aftermath. The visit comes amid political turmoil in the Middle East and during his trip, Mr Grandi will speak of the situation of UNRWA and of some five million registered Palestinian refugees in the context of the "Arab Spring" and of the Middle East peace process.

Mr Grandi will bring with him handpaintings by Palestinian refugee children, sent as a gesture of friendship, solidarity and support to the children of tsunami-hit Japan.

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For further information and interview requests, please contact:

Nozomu Kamiya on (00 972 0) 542 402 636 or

Chris Gunness on (00972 0) 542 402 659

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$ 68 million.

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