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Japan announced a new $32.2 million contribution to UNRWA. (MINA File)

Jerusalem, 7 Jumadil Awwal 1436/26 Februari 2015 (MINA) – Japan announced a new $32.2 million contribution to UNRWA, in support of urgent relief and recovery needs in Gaza, emergency assistance for Palestine refugees affected by the conflict in Syria, and the continuation of essential UNRWA services in the occupied Palestinian territory, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

In a press release, UNRWA said this donation is the largest ever one-time contribution from Japan to UNRWA. Japan’s total annual contribution in 2014 was $28.3 million, a considerable increase from $15.5 million in 2011, Wafa News Agency quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said, “We are extremely grateful for the increased assistance from the Government of Japan, a trusted and valued partner of UNRWA and Palestine refugees.”

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He said that the support, which came in the right time, is a crucial step towards helping Palestine refugees rebuild in Gaza, survive the extreme hardship resulting from the Syria crisis and access their basic needs elsewhere in our area of operations.

A total of $14 million of the Japanese contribution will go towards the UNRWA cash assistance programme supporting repairs and rental subsidies for Palestine refugees rendered homeless by last summer’s conflict in Gaza – a programme that UNRWA was forced to suspend last month due to lack of funds.

Junya Matsuura, Ambassador for Palestinian Affairs and Representative of Japan to the Palestinian Authority, said: “Palestine refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria need international assistance more than ever, especially in Gaza and Syria to face the severe political and economic situations surrounding them.”

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Matsuura confirmed that Japan will continue its efforts in helping UNRWA mitigate the suffering of the Palestinian people, including women and children.”

Of the contribution, $ 18 million will support general and emergency health services in the occupied Palestinian territory, Lebanon and Syria, and education in Lebanon.

A further $ 200,000 will help Palestine refugees affected by the conflict in Syria survive the harsh winter conditions through the provision of blankets and mattresses in Syria and emergency cash assistance for the most vulnerable of those displaced to Lebanon and Jordan.

UNRWA continuation is vital because it is the sole agency responsible for essential services for Palestine refugees. As it mainly depends on donations from states, the support from Japan will have a direct positive impact on the well-being of some of the most vulnerable people in the Middle East.

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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% reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at $81 million.(T/P008/P3)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)