Japan restores UNRWA funding but stresses importance of ‘transparency and traceability’

Japan is preparing to resume funding to the UN’s crisis-hit Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), which coordinates nearly all aid to Gaza, the government says.

Once the sixth-largest contributor to UNRWA, Japan joined more than a dozen countries in pausing funding after Israel accused at least a dozen of its 13,000 Gaza employees of being involved in the deadly October 7 Hamas assault.

Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa met UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini in Tokyo on Thursday to discuss measures taken by the agency to strengthen governance and transparency.

“Japan and the UNRWA confirmed that they will advance final coordination about necessary efforts to resume Japan’s contribution,” the foreign ministry says in a statement.

Japanese media reports say the resumption of funding, suspended in January, is expected to come in the first half of April.

The abrupt suspension of funding threatened UNRWA’s efforts to deliver desperately needed aid in Gaza, where the UN has warned of an impending famine.

This month, Australia, Canada, Sweden and others said they were resuming aid.

Lazzarini said Tuesday that the agency has enough funds to keep operating until at least the end of May.

Kamikawa on Thursday “pointed out the importance of ensuring transparency and traceability of fund flows and the neutrality of UNRWA staff”, the ministry says.

The United Nations has launched both an internal and an independent investigation but says Israel has not provided it with any evidence to support the claims against its workers.

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