Sbitany Signs UNRWA Partnership Agreement in Support of Mental Health Programmes in Gaza

10 October 2021

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) signed a cooperation and partnership agreement with Akram Sbitany & Sons Company, on the occasion of World Mental Health Day, 10 October. This partnership will support mental health projects for Palestine refugee students in the Gaza Strip.

The agreement was signed by Mr. Karim Amer, UNRWA Director of Partnerships, and Mr. Omar Mazen Sbitany, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Sbitany.

Under this agreement, Sbitany, the largest electronics retailers in the occupied Palestinian territory, will launch a fundraising and awareness campaign among employees and customers in 31 of the company's branches across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The thirty-day campaign will conclude with a Sbitany management match donation. This funding will support mental health programmes in a number of UNRWA schools in Gaza.

Speaking to the importance of increased partnerships, Mr. Amer said: "UNRWA is proud to unite with local partners and donors to provide increased services to Palestine refugees. Together we can help Palestine refugee youth recover from the psychosocial trauma caused by repeated cycles of violence in Gaza."

Representing Sbitany, Deputy CEO Mr. Omar M. Sbitany, said, “Giving back to our community is an integral part of our values and at the heart of our Corporate Social Responsibility Program “WeCare" is a joint fund between Sbitany company, its employees and customers that focuses on giving back to the local community of which we are a part of. We are proud to partner with UNRWA and support this crucial initiative and shed light on mental health needs.”

The ongoing blockade and cycles of escalating violence have created a mental health crisis that leaves two million Palestinian lives impacted by trauma. The latest assault on Gaza has exacerbated the need for mental health services. UNRWA mental health providers are on the front lines, working around the clock to provide services for the men, women and children who suffer the lasting impacts of this violence. Through group and individual counselling, in-school counselling with students and teachers and free crisis hotlines -- these heroes without capes are giving Palestine refugees the tools they need to not only survive but regain hope.

Of the two million Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza Strip, some 70 per cent are refugees, dependent on UNRWA for humanitarian assistance. The long-standing blockade has pushed large segments of the population below the poverty line. During the last 11-day round of hostilities, Palestine refugees found themselves combating the COVID-19 pandemic, a fragile economy, internal separation, uncertainty, and a lack of any future perspective on an end to the blockade.

Background Information: 

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 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Thousands of Palestine refugees who lost both their homes and livelihood because of the 1948 conflict have remained displaced and in need of significant support for over seventy years. UNRWA helps them achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140