June 19, 2024
Funds

Japan joins U.S. in halting funds for U.N. Palestinian refugee agency


Japan has decided to suspend funding for a U.N. agency that supports Palestinian refugees, joining the United States and others, amid allegations that its staff may have been involved in Hamas’ attack on Israel last year.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maki Kobayashi said in a press release Sunday that additional aid to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, known as UNRWA, will be halted “for the time being” while it investigates the matter and considers countermeasures.

Palestinians, including children, are seen waiting in front of a food aid stand in Deir Al Balah in Gaza on Jan. 28, 2024. (Anadolu Agency/Getty/Kyodo)

The move followed a U.S. announcement Friday that it would be pausing funding for UNRWA, as it is “extremely troubled” by the allegations that 12 UNRWA employees may have been involved in a surprise attack on southern Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7.

Japan is “extremely concerned” about the alleged involvement of UNRWA personnel in the “terror attack,” and urged the agency to investigate the case and take appropriate measures so that it can “firmly fulfill the role it should play,” Kobayashi said.

The Oct. 7 attack triggered the ongoing Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip which has left over 26,000 people dead in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave and led to a severe deterioration in the humanitarian situation.

Some Western nations such as Britain have followed the United States in halting funding for UNRWA.

UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini said in a statement Saturday that the decisions by nine countries to suspend funding “threatens our ongoing humanitarian work across the region including and especially in the Gaza Strip.”


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