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UNRWA Introduces New Cash Counting and Counterfeit Detection Technology in Microfinance Branches in Palestine
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has introduced new cash counting and counterfeit detection technologies in all branches of the Agency’s microfinance programme to improve the quality and efficiency of microfinance services for Palestine refugees.
The UNRWA Microfinance Department is the sole microfinance provider in Palestine that has cashiering functions in its branches to collect cash repayments from its clients. Whereas other microfinance service providers require clients to process repayments through third-party banks, the Agency’s approach allows for greater engagement with microfinance clients and a more convenient and efficient repayment process.
In order to reduce the risk of human error and in response to new categories that have been introduced for the three main currencies used in Palestine (NIS, JOD and US$), UNRWA implemented and trained staff on state-of-the-art cash counting and counterfeit detection machines in April. The new machines will streamline the cashiering process, directly benefiting clients of the Agency’s microfinance programme in Palestine.
“Introducing such technology in our business processes will enhance our operations, as well as protect our staff dealing with cash from any potential forged currency. We remain committed to client and staff protection by adopting innovative tools that promote and develop economic opportunities for Palestine refugees and the broader Palestinian community,” said Jane Saba Giacaman, Acting Director of the UNRWA Microfinance Department.
The UNRWA microfinance department provides sustainable income-generation opportunities for Palestine refugees, as well as other poor or marginalized groups who live and work near them. Since the programme’s inception (1991/1992 in Gaza, 1996 in the West Bank, and 2003 in Syria and Jordan), it has disbursed nearly 400,000 loans, valued at a total of more than US$ 440.4 million.
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 5.4 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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