Japan resumes funding to embattled Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA

Japan on Tuesday said it will lift its suspension of funding to the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) as the relief body works to regain trust after an allegation by Israel that some of its staff were involved in Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

Tokyo and 15 other countries suspended around $450 million in funding earlier this year while the agency conducted an investigation into the allegation, throwing its operations in the war-torn Gaza Strip into turmoil.

Countries including Australia and Canada have since restored funding to UNRWA, the largest relief body operating in Gaza, which has been besieged by Israel since the attack.

Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, who met UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini in Tokyo last week, said the agency’s role in addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was indispensable even as it works to improve governance and manage risks.

“In response to this, Japan will lift the moratorium on its financial contributions to UNRWA and provide assistance while ensuring and confirming the appropriateness of Japan’s funds,” she told reporters in parliament.

Approximately $35 million of originally planned funding was ready to be disbursed, she added.

Japan is the sixth biggest donor to the agency, according to the UNRWA’s 2022 data.

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