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UNRWA Commissioner-General inaugurates new building of Sabra health centre in Gaza
On his first visit to Gaza in his capacity as the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Mr. Philippe Lazzarini inaugurated a new building within the Sabra health centre, south of Gaza city. Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, Mr. Matthias Schmale, and other senior UNRWA staff members attended the opening ceremony, as well.
The construction of Sabra health centre was made possible thanks to generous funding from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) as part of a US$ 31 million contribution. The agreement between UNRWA and SFD was signed in November 2018 and includes building the Sabra health centre, the construction of two schools, maintenance of UNRWA premises, reconstruction of more than 250 totally demolished shelters and the provision of fuel for water, sanitation and health (WASH) facilities in Gaza.
The newly inaugurated building in Sabra health centre is equipped to provide over 10,000 registered Palestine refugees residing in in the areas of Shujaeia, El-Turkman, Zaitoun, Sabra, Tel al-Hawa, South Rimal and Omar al-Mokhtar Street with quality primary health-care services. The health centre offers rooms for family planning, pre-natal care and mother-baby care, and consultations for non-communicable diseases. The new facility also includes units for dental care, laboratory services, physiotherapy, psycho-social and legal counselling. Besides, school health and dental services are provided to schools, located in camps via a separate mobile team in coordination with the health centre.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been a invaluable donor to UNRWA. Over the last five years, SFD has funded the construction of seven health centres in the Gaza Strip, encompassing Beit Hanoun, Bureij, Al Shatia, Ma’aen, D/Balah, Shekih Radwan and Sabra health centres. Moreover, SFD funded construction of a number of schools and more than 1,000 totally demolished shelters.
“It is very compelling to see how years of blockade and recurrent conflicts have affected every aspect of life in Gaza,” said Mr. Lazzarini. “The health sector has been severely weakened and its infrastructure in need of serious maintenance. COVID-19 is adding pressure on a health structure that is bursting at the seams. This latest generous contribution from Saudi Arabia will help thousands of Palestine refugee stay healthy. UNRWA is grateful to SFD for being a reliable partner and a friend of Palestine refugees in times of need.”
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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