GAZA — Today, the Government of Japan announced a generous donation of US$ 5.5 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agenc y for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in support of its work in the Gaza Strip following Israel’s disengagement.
This donation is part of a US$ 100 million package announced by the Japanese Government in May 2005. It will enable UNRWA to reconstruct 333 dilapidated or unsafe dwellings belonging to the most destitute refugee families living in the eight refugee camps across the Gaza Strip. Refugees constitute approximately 70 percent of the estimated 1.4 million population of the Gaza Strip. Most of the 1,833 beneficiaries of this assistance will be refugees who do not have a means of earning an income, either because the adult males in their families have died or are unfit to work.
Access to housing which meets minimum acceptable standards is considered a fundamental human right. The reconstruction of these shelters belonging to the poorest families will provide a sustainable improvement in their living conditions, in particular the provision of a healthy living environment. Better housing fosters peaceful attitudes and diminishes violence, and can be an effective vehicle for community development.
This project will generate more than 94,000 days of temporary employment, helping alleviate the high level of unemployment in Gaza which is not expected to decline as a consequence of the Israeli withdrawal.
Japan’s prompt response to the Israeli disengagement from Gaza is timely and welcome. Earlier this year, Japan also contributed $15 million to UNRWA’s Emergency Appeal, to reconstruct the shelters of 2,790 homeless refugees in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. This new pledge is the latest in a long history of support for Palestine refugees by the Government of Japan, which has provided food aid as well as financial support to UNRWA’s General Fund, regular and emergency projects for many years.