From Palestine to Japan: Palestine Refugee students send their messages of love and hope

09 March 2023
UNRWA students show their solidarity with Japan, commemorating the 12th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. © 2023 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Hinnawi
UNRWA students, Mr. NAKASHIMA Yoichi, Ambassador of Japan for Palestinian Affairs and Representative of Japan to Palestine, and Thomas White, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, celebrate their solidarity with the People of Japan during the 2023 Kites for Hope event. © 2023 UNRWA Photo by Asako Nitta
UNRWA students show their solidarity with Japan, commemorating the 12th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. © 2023 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Hinnawi
UNRWA students show their solidarity with Japan, commemorating the 12th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. © 2023 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Hinnawi

 

Gaza,

Over 500 students from the Khan Younis' neighborhood came together to send a message of solidarity between Palestine and Japan, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the partnership between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and Japan. The event, called “Kites of Hope,” was marked by the flying of hundreds of Japanese-inspired kites high in the blue skies over the Gaza Strip.

Over the past months, the students have taken part in a range of activities, including origami sessions, haiku writing sessions, kite making sessions, and amigurumi sessions, all aimed at promoting cultural exchange and friendship between the two cultures. These activities are set to continue through the end of March.

This follows a tradition that started in 2012 when UNRWA students expressed solidarity with the people of Japan following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on 11 March 2011. Through art, poetry, and music activities, Palestinian students have continued to show their support for Japan in the most trying times.

“We appreciate all the moral support you have given us, especially the messages of sympathy that Palestine Refugee children send to Japanese children, despite their daily suffering from siege, destruction, and hardship,” said Mr. NAKASHIMA Yoichi, Ambassador of Japan for Palestinian Affairs and Representative of Japan to Palestine. “Today, the kites raise hope in the hearts of the people of Gaza, assuring that their dreams will one day come true.”

Thomas White, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, expressed his gratitude to Japan for their support, which has enabled the organization to provide essential services to millions of Palestine refugees across its five areas of operation. He added, “It is an annual event and a chance for our UNRWA children to learn about the rich culture of Japan and forge bonds of friendship between Gaza and Japan.”

As the 6th largest contributor to the Agency in 2022, the Government of Japan has been a steadfast supporter of UNRWA since 1953. Throughout 2023, the 70th anniversary of the partnership between Japan and UNRWA will be marked with events and activities set around a shared theme of tsumugu (Japanese for "connect/spin/weave"). The dedicated anniversary logo shows the Japanese flag and UNRWA logo below a stylized circle of cherry blossom and olive branches.

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Background Information: 

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.

UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

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