Children in Gaza fly kites to mark March 2011 disaster in Japan

Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip have flown kites to mark the 12th year since the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's northeast.

The kite flying event started in 2012 with the support of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA. The event has since been held annually except for 2020, when it had to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 500 refugee children gathered in the southern city of Khan Yunis on Tuesday. Girls dressed in traditional Palestinian costumes performed a dance.

The children then flew colorful kites designed by themselves into the sky and prayed for steady progress in the reconstruction of the disaster-hit areas. One of the kites was designed after the Japanese national flag.
A 12-year-old girl said she hopes for happiness and success of Japanese children and peace and safety for all Japanese people.

The director of the UNRWA office in Gaza, Thomas White, said the annual event is aimed at demonstrating solidarity between Japan and Gaza. He added that the event also serves as an invaluable opportunity for children living under a blockade to learn about Japan.