JAPAN PLEDGES JPY 630 MILLION FOR FOOD AID DURING
UNRWA COMMISSIONER-GENERAL'S FIRST OFFICIAL VISIT
24 October 2014
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl made his first official visit to Japan on October 22 to 24. Mr. Krähenbühl met with prominent parliamentarians and senior government officials, including Deputy Chief of Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato and Senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Minoru Kiuchi. He also met with representatives from the Japan International Cooperation Agency and non-governmental organizations, attended a public speaking event and gave interviews to journalists from major media outlets.
During Mr. Krähenbühl's visit, Mr. Kato announced a new Japanese contribution of JPY 630million (USD 5.8 million) to UNRWA for food aid. This contribution will enable the Agency to distribute essential food to 300,000 Palestine refugees in particularly dire need of assistance.
Mr. Krähenbühl expressed his appreciation for steadfast Japanese support for UNRWA, not only financial but also diplomatic. At the beginning of the meeting with Mr. Kato, Mr. Krähenbühl presented him with letters of thanks prepared by Palestine refugee children in Gaza and a t-shirt from an event commemorating the 2011 Tsunami in Japan, which is held every March in Gaza.
Mr. Krähenbühl briefed his Japanese partners about the current situation in Gaza and the required support. He warmly welcomed the commitment to support Palestine refugees expressed by most of the officials he met. Mr. Krähenbühl also discussed his wish to increase the number of Japanese staff in UNRWA, which was positively received.
At a public speaking event, when asked about scepticism about a solution to the plight of Palestine refugees, Mr. Krähenbühl said, “This is no time to be sceptical. It is a luxury the world cannot afford. Instead, we must bring hope and act until a just and durable solution is found.”
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$ 56 million.
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