Residents of Syria’s besieged Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp collecting aid, Feb. 13, 2015. Without passports, the refugees have no place to go. (Rami Al-Sayed / AFP / Getty Images)
On 29 January 2021, the Government of Japan contributed US$ 1.8 Million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) operations in Syria.
UNRWA said in a statement issued on Monday that this contribution, “Emergency Grant Aid in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria” will support the Agency to provide food assistance to 418,000 Palestine refugees in the country to help them cope with their basic food needs. This support from the Government of Japan will provide much needed assistance to the Agency’s emergency response in Syria that aims at preserving the resilience of Palestine refugees through the provision of humanitarian assistance to ensure that they meet their basic needs.
Palestine refugees in Syria have never been more vulnerable than they are now. This is caused by the protracted conflict in Syria in its 10th year now, critical socioeconomic conditions, increasing food prices, and that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Levels of poverty have increased and the populations are increasingly food insecure.
According to an assessment conducted by UNRWA in July 2020, close to 80 per cent of the surveyed persons stated that the number of meals or quantity of food consumed had reduced since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. More than 90 per cent of Palestine refugee households stated that they had to resort to consuming cheaper food and/or food of lower nutritious value, 99 per cent that they struggled to purchase food and other basic items due to the increasing market prices, with many going into debt to meet their basic needs. According to the post-distribution monitoring conducted in December, 48.3 per cent of the surveyed households reported poor or borderline food consumption scores.
“We are extremely grateful for this contribution,” said Amanya Michael-Ebye, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria. “Japan remains one of our most committed and reliable partners for the Palestine refugees. We are deeply grateful for Japan’s sustained support and strong commitment to UNRWA.”
“This timely contribution will help to ensure that UNRWA can continue providing food assistance to the most vulnerable Palestine refugees at this critical time of economic downturn aggravated by the pandemic,” added Amanya.
Akira ENDO, Special coordinator for Syria, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Japan in Syria, reiterated Japan’s commitment to supporting UNRWA and Palestine refugees: “Japan stays engaged in humanitarian assistance to all Palestinians in Syria wherever they are to meet their needs. The humanitarian crisis in Syria has become more complicated, particularly with the impacts of COVID-19, which deprived thousands of households of their food security and livelihoods. We sincerely hope that our contribution will find its way to people in need of assistance and alleviate the sufferings of as many Palestinians in Syria as possible.”
Japan has been a dedicated partner to UNRWA for many years. Between 2015-2020, the Government of Japan was the 5th largest contributor to the Agency, playing a critical role at a time when UNRWA faced an existential crisis.