UNRWA school in eastern Jerusalem
UNRWA school in eastern Jerusalem Reuters

The Government of Japan on Thursday signed a contribution agreement for the amount of US$ 22.4 million with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The event took place in eastern Jerusalem in the presence of Masayuki Magoshi, the Japanese envoy to the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Christian Saunders, Acting UNRWA Commissioner-General.

“This important contribution will provide vital funding for UNRWA service delivery to Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Of the total donation, more than US$ 4.2 million will support UNRWA in Syria for 2020, and US$ 7.6 million are allocated to the Agency’s Emergency Response for Humanitarian Assistance in 2020 in Gaza,” said UNRWA in a statement.

“I am glad that this contribution supports UNRWA’s important activities in all five areas of its operations. This contribution demonstrates Japan’s strong commitment to support UNRWA and its essential operations to assist Palestine refugees,” said Magoshi.

Saunders said, “The Government of Japan’s support to UNRWA is extremely timely and generous. It’s this kind of support that is particularly useful to the Agency as it allows UNRWA to advance in several very critical areas including health, education, our emergency humanitarian response program and sustainable development.”

The US, which was previously UNRWA's largest contributor, cut a full $300 million in funding to the agency in 2018, leaving it strapped for cash and asking other countries to help fill the gap.

Saunders said recently that UNRWA is facing the worst financial crisis in its history and has a budget deficit of $332 million.

Saunders has temporarily taken the helm of UNRWA after Swiss national Pierre Krahenbuhl was ousted last year amid allegations of "serious ethical abuses" by the management in a UN ethics report.

In addition to the accusations of misappropriation, UNRWA is also notorious for its anti-Israel activities. During the 2014 counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas rockets were discovered inside a school building run by UNRWA.

Likewise, a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic was detonated, killing three IDF soldiers. Aside from the massive amounts of explosives hidden in the walls of the clinic, it was revealed that it stood on top of dozens of terror tunnels, showing how UNRWA is closely embedded with Hamas.