1 September 2009
The European Commission has today announced a contribution of €13 million to support the Job Creation Programme of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which will help to create more than 1,4 million work days for Gaza's unemployed. Mr. Christian Berger, the European Commission Representative for the West Bank and Gaza Strip and UNRWA, made the announcement to UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd at Gaza City’s port, Al-Mina.
The €13 million donation will go towards UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme in the Gaza Strip, which provides temporary employment opportunities designed to alleviate the current unemployment crisis and high poverty rates in the area. The ongoing blockade of Gaza continues to dictate the lives of ordinary people and has led to an unprecedented unemployment rate of 40 percent – one of the highest in the world.
"Today's contribution serves two purposes: to highlight once again the very real hardships faced by the men and women of Gaza and to reaffirm the European Commission's commitment to help them address those hardships, said Christian Berger." "Of the many burdens faced by these families, unemployment - and its dire economic impact - is surely one of the hardest to bear. By providing funds for the Job Creation Programme of UNRWA, with whom the EC has a lasting partnership, we can bring immediate relief to many of the poorest families and help them, albeit in a modest way, to return towards a more normal way of life."
"Funding towards UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme has never been more crucial, as people in Gaza struggle under the hardship of the ongoing blockade and the effects of the recent conflict. The main priority for ordinary Gazans is to work and to lead productive lives, not to receive hand-outs. UNRWA Job Creation addresses this, as it provides thousands of employment opportunities for both men and women, targeting the poorest and most vulnerable of refugee households", said Karen AbuZayd, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA. "By supporting UNRWA’s efforts to assist those who would otherwise have few or no opportunities to provide for their families, our friends in Europe demonstrate yet again their commitment to the people of Gaza and their aspirations to live normal lives."
This is the first time that the European Commission contributes funds directly towards UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme in Gaza. The €13 million will provide jobs for more than 17,000 direct beneficiaries, reaching a total of 105,384 direct and indirect beneficiaries through the hired workers and their dependents. More than 1,450,000 job days will be generated, a welcome development given current economic circumstances.
With these EU funds, UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme in Gaza will prioritise projects in the almost collapsed private sector, assistance to local utilities and service providers, as well as support to help UNRWA fulfil its humanitarian and human development responsibilities in fields such as education, environmental health and food distribution. The EU contribution constitutes a significant part of UNRWA’s overall target under the 2009 Quick Response Plan of creating jobs for 40,500 refugees, directly and indirectly reaching as many as a quarter of the nearly 1.1 million registered refugees in Gaza.
Since 1971 the European Union has regularly supported UNRWA, becoming its largest multi-lateral donor. The EC's contribution this year to UNRWA so far amounts to €144 million. Today's funds come from the EU's Instrument for Stability, in response to the recent Gaza conflict.
For more information on the EU's assistance to the occupied Palestinian territory:
Alix de Mauny, + 972 (0)54 802 4915 For more information on UNRWA:
Chris Gunness, +97 2(0)54 240 2659