Statement by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Pledging Conference of UNRWA

(Check against delivery)

Madam President,
 
            At the outset, I wish to thank you President of the General Assembly Espinosa for convening today’s meeting, and for her remarks. I am also grateful for the intervention of Secretary-General Guterres, and for the briefing provided by Commissioner-General Krähenbühl. And may I express a warm welcome to the representatives of the students Parliament who have joined us today.
 
UNRWA provides humanitarian assistance to millions of Palestine refugees, and Japan sees its activities as crucial for both humanitarian purposes and stability in the region. We commend the efforts of UNRWA staff on the ground despite the difficult security environment.
 
Japan will continue to provide necessary assistance to UNRWA to ensure that the Agency can carry out its responsibilities. This year, we have disbursed 32 million U.S. dollars so far. For short-term financial stability, we encourage donor countries to disburse their contributions as early as possible.
 
For mid- to long-term financial stability, it is important to continue our efforts to mobilize resources from diverse donors. Japan has been working on expanding UNRWA’s donor base through various forums. The most recent opportunity was at the Senior Officials Meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) held in Thailand on the 31st of May, where we called on the participants to contribute to stability in the Middle East by providing assistance to UNRWA.
 
Next month, we will convene a Senior Officials Meeting of the Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development (or CEAPAD). For the first time, this meeting will take place in the West Bank, and we hope the site visit and firsthand experience on the ground will enhance the contributions from participants.  Japan welcomes the increased engagement of Asian Countries to support UNRWA and will continuously work on this endeavor.
 
We welcome increased efforts made by UNRWA and donors to diversify the donor base through greater involvement of international financial institutions and the private sector. In Japan, a crowd-funding project authorized by UNRWA began last year. All amounts donated through this project are going to be remitted to UNRWA.
 
At the same time, Japan expects UNRWA to continue its efforts to improve its efficiency, transparency and accountability. We appreciate UNRWA’s steps to improve efficiency, and we encourage further efforts towards management reform to ensure UNRWA’s sustainable operation.
 
Finally, Japan values UNRWA’s education programs. Human resource development is indispensable for peace and development in the Middle East. We hope that, through a fair and balanced education, UNRWA programs will help prepare the next generation for peace and stability rather than confrontation. In this regard, Japan started a new program to invite school teachers in Gaza to Japan. In March, the first invitees including UNRWA school teachers came to Japan and visited an elementary school in Hiroshima, where teachers put particular focus on the peace education curriculum. I am sure that their experience will be passed on to Palestinian children so as to build a brighter future for them.
 
Thank you.