Japan to Reinstate Funding to the UNRWA

What’s Happening

Japan has announced that they are going to be reinstating funding to the UNRWA, the UN organization which handles UN operations for Palestinians, including within Gaza. Japan joins a growing list of nations and groups that have reinstated funding to the UNRWA, with Canada, Sweden, and Finland also having recently reinstated funding.

The Japanese announcement comes after Japan’s Foreign Minister, Yoko Kamikawa, met with UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini in Tokyo in order to discuss the matter, as well as the UNRWA could be more transparent, particularly in regards to funding. Prior to Japan cutting funding to the UNRWA, they were their sixth largest donor, with the US, Germany, and the EU being their largest donors (the EU has also since reinstated funding, however Germany and the US have not. Notably, the German cut of funding to the UNRWA is one of the reasons Nicaragua filed a case in the ICJ against Germany for their support of Israel).

“Japan and the UNRWA confirmed that they will advance final coordination about necessary efforts to resume Japan’s contribution” said the Japanese Foreign Ministry in a statement.

The UNRWA has stated that it has secured enough funding to bring it to the end of May. If it cannot secure further funding past that, it will have to cease operations which will represent a collapse of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Since before the war, and especially during, the UNRWA has handled the vast majority of humanitarian operations within Gaza.

Why the Cuts

Japan, along with more than a dozen different international entities, cut funding to the UNRWA after Israel made accusations that 12 UNRWA staff members were involved in Hamas’ initial attack on October 7th. They later expanded allegations, further claiming that over 450 UNRWA employees are involved with or co-operating with in some capacity Hamas and other Gazan militant groups.

A photo of a damaged UNRWA building within Gaza (Photo from AFP/Getty Images).

After Israel made the accusations, the UNRWA lost nearly half of its funding, making worse an already dire situation.

The UNRWA terminated contracts with the individuals who were accused, and began an investigation into the allegations, however the investigation has been complicated by Israel, who has thus far refused to share any of it’s acclaimed evidence with the UNRWA, claiming it would simply be giving evidence to the organization which they accuse of colluding with Hamas in the first place, exposing their sourcing. Israel has also neglected to share evidence with most nations intelligence agencies on the matter. Notably, the decision to cut funding was undertaken by all nations without having seen any of the Israeli evidence.

“I don’t think we need to give intelligence information. This would reveal sources in the operation. We gave information to UNRWA about employees that worked for UNRWA that are members of Hamas. They think that we can give them intelligence information, knowing that some of their employees work for Hamas? Are you serious? Why don’t we invite Hamas to our headquarters and have them sit at our desk and have a look at all the information we have?” -Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lior Haiat

Several nations have announced their intention to resume, or their immediate resumption of, funding to the UNRWA after having either seen an ‘interim report’ done by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on the allegations, or following meetings with UNRWA officials.

Many of the nations that have not resumed funding have stated they will resume funding pending the results of the UN’s full investigation, however OIOS officials have stated the full investigation could take from 6-12 months, particularly with the lack of co-operation from Israel on the matter.

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Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.