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Ambassador of Japan visited UNHCR-led projects

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Japan will continue to support the most vulnerable people affected by the conflict in Ukraine

14 Nov 2019

On 12-13 November 2019, the delegation of the Japanese Embassy in Ukraine headed by Takashi Kurai, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Japan in Ukraine, visited Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts to observe the implementation of humanitarian programmes, carried out in the conflict-affected areas by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and UNICEF.

The visit was aimed at overseeing the progress and achievements in humanitarian response, funded by the Government of Japan, with particular focus on projects implemented by UNHCR and UNICEF.

“This is my second trip to eastern regions since my arrival to Ukraine as the Ambassador of Japan. It is important for me to keep visiting these areas in order to see everything with my own eyes and also to play some role in raising awareness of the international community about the situation in eastern Ukraine where people are still suffering. I am looking forward to meeting the people and the leadership of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” said Takashi Kurai, the Ambassador of Japan.

«Japan has been a very consistent and important supporter of Ukraine. Through this support we have been able to address two of the most critical needs of conflict-affected persons in eastern Ukraine: protection and shelter repairs. This really makes a huge difference in lives of the people, who are constantly exposed to shelling and other risks related to the conflict,” noted Pablo Mateu, UNHCR Representative in Ukraine.

Since the conflict started in 2014, the Government of Japan steadily increased its generous funding of UNHCR-led projects in eastern Ukraine aimed at supporting internally-displaced and conflict-affected persons in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. In 2019, the total amount of assistance provided by Japan to UNHCR Ukraine and its NGO partners exceeded USD 4 million. Thanks to the support of the Government of Japan, this year around 400 households in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts had their homes repaired, 350 more families with specific needs were supported by cash for protection to cover their urgent needs – to prepare for the winter season and to pay for medical examination procedures. This assistance is aimed at supporting the most vulnerable persons affected by the conflict.

The Government of Japan also doesn’t leave behind the children and youth. In total, since the beginning of the conflict, the Government of Japan has allocated more than USD 8 million to UNICEF to support children and their families. This funding has enabled UNICEF to create a safe learning environment for 200,000 children, improve access to drinking water and sanitation for 1.5 million people in the conflict area, and promote the development of adolescents and young people through training on project management and entrepreneurial skills.

As part of the visit, in Sloviansk the delegation met the winners of the UPSHIFT Youth Innovation Programme which is being implemented in eastern Ukraine by UNICEF with the support of the Government of Japan. Mr. Ambassador opened the English-speaking club that was set up by young UPSHIFT programme participants, and handed sewing equipment for sewing training courses for young people with disabilities.

“We are grateful to the Government of Japan for the support it provides to overcome the effects of an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine,” said Ramiz Behbudov, Head of UNICEF Office in Eastern Ukraine, “_Children and young people are among the vulnerable groups most affected by the conflict. UNICEF with the financial support of the Government of Japan is working to improve education and promote resilience of children and adolescents.”_

This year, the Government of Japan provided USD 360,000 for implementation of the UNICEF project “Strengthening resilience of young people and promoting social stabilization of their communities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts” in 2019-2020. The overall project goal is to mitigate the impact of the conflict on children, adolescents and young people in Eastern oblasts by strengthening the resilience of children and communities.

On 12 November, at the meeting with the governor of Donetsk oblast administration, the Ambassador of Japan announced that next year the Government of Japan will prioritize its support for projects in education, health care and economic areas, aimed primarily at creating new jobs in eastern Ukraine. This funding will be channeled through different organizations.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk oblast administration, expressed his gratitude to the Government of Japan for continuous support of repairs of the houses damaged by the conflict and community-based initiatives in the region.

After meeting with the delegation of the Japanese Embassy, Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk oblast and the head of the civil-military administration, underlined a crucial role played by the United Nations agencies in providing support to persons, affected by the conflict:

“We are very grateful to the people and the Government of Japan for providing comprehensive support to our region at this difficult time. I also want to express my gratitude to the respected international organization – the United Nations which implemented numerous projects and programmes to help rebuild our region. People of Luhansk oblast will always remember that you were one of the first ones who came to help.”