Spain contributes to upgrading health care to Palestinians in Shatila refugee camp

14 May 2009

14 May 2009

Beirut

A newly reconstructed health centre has been officially inaugurated in Shatila refugee camp under the patronage and presence of His Excellency Mr. Juan Carlos Gafo, the Spanish Ambassador to Lebanon, and of Mr. Salvatore Lombardo, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon.

With a generous donation of US$185,520 from the Government of Spain, UNRWA has significantly upgraded the health centre premises and equipment to provide appropriate health care to the 8,645 refugees residing in the camp. The new health centre hosts an additional upper floor offering a wide range of primary health care services including curative general clinics, maternal and child health care, family planning and immunization, prevention and control of communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases, drugs supply and screening facilities for breast and cervical cancer. The Shatila Health Centre also provides clinical laboratory services and dental health care. Patients requiring hospitalization for secondary and tertiary health care are referred to contracted hospitals in the Beirut area.

The new premises will facilitate a better flow of patients, preventing overcrowding, and allowing adequate contact time for medical consultations and consequently an improvement in the quality of services.

The reconstruction of Shatila Health Centre is one of the projects funded by the Spanish Government under UNRWA‘s Early Recovery Plan (ERP).

Spain is amongst UNRWA‘s ten most generous donors and provides contributions to both the Agency‘s General Fund and regular and emergency programmes. Last year, the Government of Spain contributed to the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared Camp (NBC) in North Lebanon through the Multi-Donor Trust Fund, donating EUR 6 million, and also donated EUR 0.5 million for rubble removal activities in NBC channeled through UNDP. Previously, in the aftermath of the July 2006 war, Spain contributed to UNRWA‘s ERP with EUR 2 million, followed in 2007 by a donation of EUR 300,000 towards UNRWA‘s 2007 Flash Appeal in response to the humanitarian crisis in North Lebanon.

Some 4.6 million Palestine refugees in UNRWA’s five fields of operations – Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – are eligible for Agency services, including education, healthcare, social services, shelter, micro-credit loans and emergency aid. UNRWA employs nearly 30,000 staff, the vast majority of whom are Palestine refugees. UNRWA’s operations are financed almost entirely by voluntary contributions from donors. The entire Agency’s regular budget for 2009 is approximately $560 million, which covers the recurrent costs of the Agency’s education, health and relief and social services activities. This year the Agency faces a shortfall of $47 million.

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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$ 69 million.

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