Japan has pledged to provide $5.4 million to fund the emergency assistance of Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
Japan and the UNRWA have had a long-standing relationship, with Japan being a valued donor for decades and even sitting as a member of the UNRWA Advisory Commission since 1973.
In 2017, Japan contributed $43.4 million in aid to the agency. The recent announcement of support comes amid growing concerns about the agency’s financial crisis. The UNRWA has been struggling through severe budget deficits. The lack of funding may affect the coming school year for refugees.
The coming funds are to be used to provide immediate food and aid to the near one million Palestinian refugees displaced from the Gaza Strip.
The struggling budget situation of the UNRWA has been exacerbated by the freeze on aid to Palestine by the United States of America since the start of 2018. The Trump administration declared a need for internal review of its policy for aid, prompting a hold on outgoing assistance. President Donald Trump announced the a total of $65 million would be withheld from UNRWA.
These financial limitations have forced the UNRWA to dismiss 13 percent of its emergency program workers placed int he Gaza Strip. Employment has also shifted 57 percent towards part-time contracts. UNRWA staff have begun protesting against the “harsh measures” the agency has imposed on their employees as a result of the budget cuts.
The UNRWA functions as the agency of the UN body that provides healthcare, education, and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and in occupied East Jerusalem. The agency also extends assistance to Palestinians displaced to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.