11 April 2012
On 10 April 2012, two new premises of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the al-Bahrain Health Centre and the al-Bahrain Public Library, generously funded by the Bahrain Royal Charity Organization (RCO), were opened by HE Dr Mustafa Al Sayed, RCO Secretary-General. The inauguration ceremony was held at the al-Bahrain Health Centre in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Peter Ford, Representative of the UNRWA Commissioner-General and former British Ambassador to Bahrain, thanked the King of Bahrain, Shaikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the RCO, Dr Mustafa Al Sayed and the leadership, people and Parliament of the Kingdom of Bahrain, noting that, “Over three years on from the devastating Israeli attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, we are delighted to inaugurate these new facilities which will improve the lives of the refugee population of Gaza. More than 101,000 refugees from Khan Younis Camp will now have access to decent health care, while all the residents of Jabalia Camp will benefit from the new library. The health centre is an eagerly awaited facility in the middle of a crowded camp, while the library is a unique building which will serve as a tribute to the memory of those victims who were killed while sheltering in the neighbouring al-Fakhoura school during the war”. Dr Mustafa Al Sayed, commented that: “I am very pleased to be in Gaza representing HH Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Charity Organisation of Bahrain and to have the honour of opening this health centre which has been built as a result of the support of His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa and the people of Bahrain. These latest projects are in line with Bahrain’s strategy to improve conditions for Palestine refugees and to participate in the reconstruction of Gaza. We are very pleased with our relationship with UNRWA and the Agency is indeed, our strategic partner.”
Following the inauguration event, Dr Al Sayed and Mr Ford also signed an agreement worth $50,000 to help UNRWA support the Deir Al Balah Rehabilitation Society, a Community Based Rehabilitation Centre in the Gaza Strip, which assists refugees and others with disabilities living in the area. 37 CBRCs across UNRWA’s areas of operation help UNRWA achieve the goals of its Disability Programme with support such as education, outreach and advocacy for this often marginalised group of refugees.
In 2009, UNRWA and the Bahrain Royal Charity Organization signed an agreement worth $5.4 million under which Bahrain agreed to finance three reconstruction projects in Gaza - the health centre of the Khan Younis refugee camp, a new library, open to the public at Al Fakhoura school in Jabalia Camp, and a new school. Due to the Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza the start of works was delayed. However the first two projects are complete and the final project, al-Manama school located in Tel Al Hawwa, will open its doors to students in September 2012. A $200,000 project financed by the Parliament of the Kingdom of Bahrain to construct eight additional classrooms at the existing al-Fakhari School in Gaza has also recently been completed.
The Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain has been a steady contributor to the Agency, and currently gives $50,000 annually to support UNRWA’s core programmes in the area of health, education, and relief and social services. The $5.4 million generously pledged towards these reconstruction projects in Gaza represented the first contribution from the Kingdom of Bahrain through the Royal Charity Organisation for UNRWA projects.