At a press conference at the Kalandia Training Centre, UNRWA and Japan celebrated this new milestone in a long-standing partnership, along with Ahmad Hanoun, Director-General of the Department of Refugee Affairs of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Junya Matsuura, Representative of Japan to the Palestinian Authority, said: "We are committed to providing support and help to the Palestine refugee community. Therefore, our relationship with UNRWA is extremely important to us. Working together, Japan and UNRWA can make substantial improvements in the lives of this vulnerable community."
Mr Matsuura explained that of the new contribution, US$ 3.5 million will be used to provide cash assistance, non-food items and hygiene kits within Syria itself. The remainder will provide cash assistance, textbooks and primary health services to some of the over 60,000 Palestine refugees from Syria who have sought safety in Lebanon. The funding will also support training materials for UNRWA teachers, to help them better address the needs of PRS students.
Salvatore Lombardo, UNRWA Director of External Relations, thanked Representative Matsuura. He noted that the new contribution brings total Japanese support for the Agency's Syria appeal alone to US$ 10 million. The Government of Japan has also provided emergency support in Gaza and generous support to core UNRWA services including education and health; in 2012 alone, the Agency received a total of US$ 22.44 million from Japan. He said: "UNRWA depends on the kind of support we have always received from Japan. As Palestine refugees face an incredible challenge from the conflict in Syria, we continue to rely on this important relationship."
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$ 54.3 million.
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