Partnering for Palestine refugees

21 March 2012

Bank of Palestine and UNRWA sign partnership agreement

Brussels, Belgium

Chairman and General Manager of the Bank of Palestine, Hashim Shawa, and Filippo Grandi, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), today signed a partnership agreement for collaboration between the two parties.

The signing ceremony took place at Engaging Youth, a high-level conference hosted by UNRWA and attended by more than 350 partners and stakeholders of the Agency. The delegates, representing host governments, youth representatives, government donors, private sector and NGO partners, are gathered to address the challenges of engaging Palestine refugee youth and providing education and employment for the new generation of refugees. All with the purpose of strengthening strategic planning of UNRWA programmes related to youth.

“Supporting UNRWA’s work to provide services and protection to Palestine refugees is a natural priority of the Bank”, said Shawa. “In addition to the role the Bank of Palestine plays in contributing to a sustainable Palestinian economy and improving access to finance through opening branches in unbanked areas, lending to micro-businesses and SMEs, supporting jobs, and promoting entrepreneurship, we are committed to supporting the Palestinian society. Each year we contribute five per cent of our net profit to Corporate Social Responsibility.”, says Hashim Shawa, chairman and general manager of Bank Palestine. “ As signatories of the UN Global Compact, I am proud to be partnering with the UN agency, which has stood by Palestine refugees for six decades, and to this day is providing education, health and other vital services, pending a just and lasting solution to the plight of Palestine refugees.”

While Bank of Palestine is no new supporter of UNRWA, the agreement signed today takes the partnership between the two parties to the next level. It stipulates strategic areas of collaboration, among those efforts directed at refugee children and youth. UNRWA and Bank of Palestine will work together to promote education, sports and cultural activities for Palestine refugees. The agreement also acknowledges the Bank of Palestine’s commitment to render support to UNRWA’s resource mobilisation and fundraising activities.

“Closer co-operation between UNRWA and the business sector spring from a growing recognition that the world’s pressing problems are far too complex and resource-intensive to be addressed by the public sector alone,” said Filippo Grandi, Commissioner-General of UNRWA. “This partnership agreement with Bank of Palestine is signed at a critical time when UNRWA is working hard to expand and deepen collaboration with the private sector to better serve almost five million Palestine refugees. We are grateful to have such a committed partner as the Bank of Palestine at our side.”

The Bank of Palestine is the first and largest Palestinian bank. Founded in 1960, the bank has built its way to become the most prevalent bank in Palestine with the largest banking network of 46 branches and 1,100 employees. It is a priority for the bank to contribute to building a sustainable Palestinian economy and society. Therefore the bank has integrated an all-encompassing sustainability strategy to its business, which includes a commitment of five per cent of its net profit annually to corporate social responsibility programmes and activities; among those, the activities of UNRWA.

- Ends -

Background information

Bank of Palestine
Established in 1960, Bank of Palestine (BoP) is the first and largest Palestinian bank with the most widespread branch network in Palestine, a paid up capital of USD 120 million, and assets of over USD 1.6 billion, with 1,100 employees serving over 500,000 customers. Operating as a universal bank, BoP is engaged in retail, corporate, SME and micro-banking operations, with the largest card processing operations in Palestine; BoP is the sole agent for card issuing and merchant acquiring Visa and Master Card in Palestine with over 5,000 point-of-sale machines nationwide. Recently, BoP has been playing a leading role in some of the largest project finance loan syndications in Palestine, such as Wataniya Mobile Palestine and the Movenpick Hotel, Ramallah. Bank of Palestine has been committed throughout the years to economic development on a community level. Therefore the bank has been the leader in corporate social responsibility in Palestine, dedicating five per cent of its net profit to this programme. BoP is a proud signatory of the UN Global Compact.

UNRWA Engaging Youth conference
Brussels, 19 and 20 March 2012. With the support of the European Union and the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium, UNRWA is hosting a conference for its key stakeholders and partners. The conference will address the particular challenges relating to youth programmes and serve to strengthen the strategic thinking of UNRWA programming related to youth.

OBS: Press release for information only - Not an official record

For further information please contact:

Bank of Palestine
Salim Hodali
Head of the Diaspora Unit
Salim.Hodali@bankofpalestine.com
Mobile: +972-599816554

Raya Yusuf -Sbitany
Head of Investor Relations
Raya.sbitany@bankofpalestine.com
Mobile: +972-595-746555

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0724

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