Statement by H.E. Mr. Motohide Yoshikawa
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
On Agenda Item 51:
United Nations Relief and Works Agency
For Palestine Refugees in the Near East
At the Meeting of the Special Political and
6 November 2013
(*H.E.Mr. Carlos Enrique García González (El Salvador))
Quiero decir unas palabras en su idioma. Gracias por darme la oportunidad de hablar en el distinguido Cuarto Comité por la primera vez como el nuevo Representante Permanente de Japón. Es mi gran placer de poder trabajar con su Excelencia y el equipo de su Bureau.
I would like to start by thanking my long time friend, Mr. Filippo Grandi, for his last briefing as the Commissioner-General of UNRWA. I want to assure Mr. Grandi that I have taken very careful note of the recommendations and appeals he just made. I also wish to pay tribute to all UNRWA staff members. They dedicate themselves tirelessly to their noble mission to provide essential services to Palestinian refugees, even when the deepening crisis in Syria makes operations on the ground very difficult.
UNRWA continues to provide a broad array of services such as food, education, and health. We are delighted to note that, under the leadership of the Japanese Director of Health, Dr. Seita, UNRWA successfully expanded and improved its health program. With the introduction of “Family Health Teams”, family doctors now regularly look after Palestinian families and build long term doctor-patient relationships, thereby providing comprehensive primary health care for Palestinian families.
Our relations with UNRWA are older than our history with the United Nations. Japan started its assistance to Palestinians through UNRWA exactly 60 years ago in 1953, three years before our accession to the United Nations in 1956. Being both on the Advisory Commission and on the Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA, Japan has been actively taking part in UNRWA’s activities.
I want to emphasize that Japan has been stepping up its assistance to UNRWA in recent years. The total amount of Japan’s financial contributions tripled from 8.7 million US dollars in Japan’s fiscal year 2009 to 27 million US dollars in Japan’s fiscal year 2012. Our cooperation helps UNRWA not only to run its daily activities in providing basic services to Palestinian refugees, but also to conduct emergency humanitarian assistance in response to the Syrian crisis.
Today, I am delighted to announce that my Government will announce a significant amount of food aid to UNRWA next week. This grant will be used for the purchase of wheat flour and other commodities and they will be distributed to around 300,000 Palestinian refugees living in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. But very unfortunately, I cannot announce the exact amount of our assistance until formal notes will be exchanged between Japan and UNRWA in 6 days time. We will announce in due course the content of the announcement.
Japan is of the view that helping Palestinians to create viable economic foundations will help advancing the peace process. In this regard, Japan took two concrete initiatives.
One is the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” project. This project is designed to transform, through regional cooperation, an area of the Jordan Valley into productive agricultural land, thereby allowing Palestinians to export agricultural products.
The other is the “Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development” or CEAPAD. Let me focus today on the CEAPAD.
The CEAPAD, launched in February this year in Tokyo, is a process aimed at mobilizing and sharing East Asian economic development experiences and resources for the sake of Palestinian development. We thank Mr. Grandi for his participation at the first CEAPAD meeting in Tokyo.
As a follow-up, a business promotion meeting will be held in December in Japan and a second meeting of CEAPAD will take place under the Indonesian chairmanship early next year. We very much appreciate the Indonesian government for their efforts. We believe that this undertaking is useful in broadening the scope of supporters for UNRWA, and we hope that UNRWA continues to associate itself with the CEAPAD process.
Let me conclude by saying words of tribute to Commissioner-General Grandi. During his tenure, he undertook management reform in order to enhance the efficiency of the Agency. He also visited a large number of countries including Japan, with a view to increasing awareness regarding the plight of Palestinian refugees and mobilizing donor funding. On behalf of the Japanese Government, I would like to express Japan’s heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Grandi’s contribution and dedication to the work of UNRWA during the past 8 years.
Finally, I take this occasion to thank Filippo for his friendship with me, which started more than a decade ago when he was with the UNHCR. I wish him the very best in his future endeavors.
Muchas gracias, Señor Presidente.