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UNRWA Commissioner-General gets COVID-19 vaccine from Ministry of Health in Ramallah; calls for Palestine refugees to be included in global push for vaccination
Phillipe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), received today the first of two vaccines against COVID-19 in Ramallah in the occupied Palestinian territory through the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health.
Following his vaccination, Mr. Lazzarini said: “I decided to receive my vaccine against COVID-19 through the Palestinian Ministry of Health and encourage all my UNRWA colleagues to get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and it is the most effective tool in preventing the spread of virus and reducing its health impact. I encourage all UNRWA personnel – many, many of whom are frontline workers who have valiantly led the fight against the spread of this virus from the start - and their family members, to register and get vaccinated through the national plans of the host countries where UNRWA operates.”
Commissioner-General Lazzarini also lauded the Palestinian Minister of Health, Dr. Mai al-Kaila, for leading the efforts in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the Palestinian territory. For her key advocacy role, Dr. al-Kaila, a former UNRWA health official, was recently awarded with “Woman of the Decade in Public Life, Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Humanity” award from the Entrepreneurial Women’s Summit in Asia.
With respect to the vaccination of Palestine refugees, UNRWA cooperates closely with local health authorities in raising awareness on the safety and availability of the vaccine, as well as providing other assistance where needed.
“My deep thanks and appreciation go to host countries that have already included the vaccination of Palestine refugees as part of their respective deployment plans,” said the Commissioner-General. “I am counting on the international community to ensure the availability of vaccines to refugees worldwide, including Palestine refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory and throughout the region. This deadly pandemic knows no borders and does not differentiate between rich and poor, or refugee and non-refugee. The only way we are going to defeat COVID-19 is through a sustained effort by all responsible parties, without discrimination.”
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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