15 June 2010
By Mohammad Ghazal
A regional media campaign will be launched during the holy month of Ramadan to raise funds for UNRWA health and education projects.
Under two agreements signed late Sunday between the agency and the Zain Group and Zain Jordan, the campaign will be aired throughout the Arab world on MBC TV during the holy month of Ramadan to highlight the agency’s services to Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.
During the six-week campaign, Zain’s 31 million customers in the region will have the opportunity to send messages to designated numbers and donate funds for UNRWA’s health and education programmes in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, according to a Zain statement.
Under the agreements, Zain will also establish a relief fund and allocate an annual budget to improve the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Jordan by providing financial aid.
At the signing ceremony, Zain Group CEO Nabeel Ben Salameh said the fundraising campaign encourages donations either via SMS messages on the Zain network or directly to an UNRWA bank account.
The funds collected by SMS will go to a fund created by Zain to support UNRWA’s education and health programmes the region, he added.
“These initiatives will undoubtedly help address UNRWA’s serious budget shortfall and help improve its services,” Ben Salameh said.
UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi noted that UNRWA programmes currently face a $100 million budget deficit, according to a statement released by Zain.
“The Ramadan fund- raising campaign is a prime example on how private and public entities can complement each other for one goal - human development,” the statement quoted Grandi as saying.
Zain Jordan CEO Abdul Malek Al Jaber highlighted the Zain Relief Fund for Refugees, which aims to respond to the urgent needs of registered refugees during emergencies.
The government has called for an increase in UNRWA’s budget allocations for the Kingdom, which hosts around 1.9 million Palestinian refugees, or 42 per cent of their total number in the region. Current financial allocations for UNRWA in Jordan stand at 20 per cent of the agency’s budget.
UNRWA is the primary source of services for 4.6 million refugees in the Middle East. Since 1948, the agency has provided services for four generations of displaced people including food, clothes, shelter, education and health services.
In Jordan, the agency operates in 10 official camps, where 338,000 out of 1.951 million refugees are registered. It also works in 27 camps hosting 688.3 thousand refugees out of 1.836 million registered in Palestine, according to the Zain statement.