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Japan says it will restart support to UNRWA

Israeli right-wing protesters look at a banner hung on the entrance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, headquarters in Jerusalem on March 20. Japan said it will start funding the agency again on Tuesday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
Israeli right-wing protesters look at a banner hung on the entrance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, headquarters in Jerusalem on March 20. Japan said it will start funding the agency again on Tuesday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

April 2 (UPI) -- Japan said Tuesday that it will continue funding a United Nations organization that helps Palestinian refugees after doubts have been cast on allegations that some of its employees were involved in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Japan and other countries had stopped their support to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, also known as UNRWA, when Israel alleged employees assisted Hamas in its attack that killed more than 1,000 Israelis.

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Uncertainty over the allegations and the need of humanitarian aid in Gaza has led Japan to reverse course.

"I would like to convey my strong sense of urgency over the increasingly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza," Japan's Foreign Affairs Minister Yoko Kamikawa said in a Tokyo news conference Tuesday.

"According to reports from international organizations, famine is imminent, with about half of Gaza's population, or about 1.1 million people, expected to enter the most severe phase. There is a crushing shortage of the bare essentials for human survival."

Japan is set to give UNRWA some $35 million in aid this fiscal year. Australia, Canada, Finland and Sweden have already restarted. The European Union said in March it would continue its aid to UNRWA as well.

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The Israeli government in January claimed that 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the surprise Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. That led the United States and numerous other countries to suspend aid to the agency. The UNRWA fired the suspended workers and started its investigation.

Since then, the United Nations said it has not received any information and evidence about the allegations and follow-up news reports could not substantiate any of the allegations.

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