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Palestine refugees in Jenin face security and economic challenges
As part of his constant engagement with the Palestine refugee community, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Mr. Philippe Lazzarini spent a day in Jenin refugee camp, in the northern occupied West Bank.
“I am fully aware of how tense the situation is,” said Mr. Lazzarini. “I am here today to reiterate my commitment and that of the senior management for Palestine refugees and their right to a dignified life. Every person I met here today deserves to live in safety. But the economic and the security situations are worrying, hence the immense relevance of the work that UNRWA does in providing a sense of normality through open schools, health centres and through its running programmes.”
Following his visit to UNRWA schools, Mr. Lazzarini met with the Popular Service Committee of Jenin camp, to discuss the worrying impact of almost daily exchange of fire between Israeli Security Forces (ISF) and Palestinian armed militants. Camp residents have increasingly relied on UNRWA services, including psychosocial interventions for children and adults, social interventions for affected families, and employment opportunities. The Commissioner-General committed to step up the Agency’s support to Jenin’s summer camps for school children, increase work opportunities for sanitation labourers in the camp, and provide first aid intervention packages to families affected by the ongoing conflict.
“Residents of Jenin camp are under immense security and economic pressure,” said Ms. Dorothee Klaus, Acting Director of UNRWA Affairs in the West Bank. “The local economy is depleted, as Israeli-Arab clients who used to visit to buy local products stay away, and Israeli work permits are no longer awarded.”
Jenin camp is home to over 22,000 registered Palestine refugees. UNRWA provides basic education to 1,750 students in its four UNRWA elementary schools - two boys’ schools and two girls’ schools. Every day, on average 300 patients seek medical care at the UNRWA primary health care centre located in the camp. A total of five URNWA social workers visit affected families in need of psychosocial and material assistance.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.7 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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