A Palestinian man and children carry bags of cereal outside an aid distribution centre run by UNRWA in the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of Bureij, 31 July 2019 (AFP)
The Government of Italy signed an agreement with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (URNWA) worth EUR 1.79 million to support the Agency’s health programming.
The contribution will provide one year’s operating funding for three UNRWA health clinics, namely the UNRWA Khan Younis, Maghazi and Beit Hanoun Health Centres. This will provide access to primary health care to some 177,000 Palestine refugees, through more than 640,000 medical consultations, according to a Tuesday press release by UNRWA.
“This contribution provides further proof of Italy’s commitment and confidence in the work of UNRWA, whose role is fundamental in providing basic health services to Palestinian refugees, particularly in Gaza” said Giuseppe Fedele, Consul General of Italy in Jerusalem.
“This support is now more important than ever, in light of the risks posed by COVID-19 to the health system in Gaza, that was already affected by longstanding shortcomings. This contribution is also part of the Team Europe package, which combines efforts from all EU Member States to support the fight against COVID-19 in Palestine”, he added.
“Through this project, AICS renews its long-standing support to UNRWA in the provision of health services to Palestine refugees in Gaza”, said Cristina Natoli, Head of Office - Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS).
“We are sincerely grateful to the Government of Italy for the long-standing support towards UNRWA and Palestine refugees. This generous contribution is of vital importance to help us delivering health care services in the Gaza strip, especially at a time of great uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic when protecting the health and wellbeing of Palestine refugees is more crucial than ever,” said Marc Lassouaoui, UNRWA Chief of Donor Relations.
The UNRWA health programme operates 22 health centres across the besieged Gaza Strip, now in its thirteenth year of blockade. In 2019, UNRWA provided 4.2 million medical consultations to Palestine refugees in Gaza and continues to serve some 1.5 million registered Palestine refugees there with health, education, relief and social services.
The Government of Italy is a strong supporter of UNRWA and in 2019 contributed over EUR 13 million to support the Agency’s vital services to Palestine refugees.