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Japan to resume UNRWA funding

The agency's sixth-biggest donor will release around $35 million of originally planned funding.

Japan's Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, right, and UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini during a meeting in Tokyo, Japan on March 28, 2024. Source: X/Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Japan's Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, right, and UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini during a meeting in Tokyo, Japan on March 28, 2024. Source: X/Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Tokyo said on Tuesday that it will restore funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. The announcement came a day after the release of an interim report into the agency’s neutrality and risk management.

Japan, the sixth-biggest donor to the agency, and 15 other countries temporarily halted funding to UNRWA following Israel’s charges that some of the agency’s employees participated directly in Hamas’s terror attacks on Oct. 7 and that many more have ties to Palestinian terrorism.

Some countries, including Australia and Canada, have since resumed funding, though UNRWA’s biggest donor—Washington—won’t resume funding to the agency for at least a year.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa met with UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini in Tokyo last week. She told reporters on Tuesday that “Japan will lift the moratorium on its financial contributions to UNRWA and provide assistance while ensuring and confirming the appropriateness of Japan’s funds.”

Kamikawa added that about $35 million of originally planned funding would be released.

Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry on Friday called the Independent Review Group’s interim report “an attempt to cover up UNRWA’s failures in order to enable the refunding of the agency.”

The statement went on to say that, “All the proposals for cosmetic reforms offered by the group are meaningless and ignore the real problem that UNRWA is part of the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas.”

The ministry stated that it had presented “detailed information” about Hamas’s and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s “deep penetration” of the agency, including “that more than 2,000 UNRWA employees are members of terrorist organizations, that one-fifth of UNRWA school principals and deputy principals are Hamas personnel and that tunnels or other terrorist infrastructure were found in more than 30 UNRWA facilities.”

Still, Israel said, the new U.N. report “did not even include the simple statement that UNRWA should fire or refrain from employing members of Hamas and other terrorist organizations.”

In the statement, Israel urged donor countries to divert funding from UNRWA to other humanitarian organizations in Gaza.

The review group’s final report is slated to be made public on April 20.

The U.N.’s Office for Internal Oversight Services also opened an investigation into UNRWA concerning its links to Hamas and the Oct. 7 terrorist invasion.

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