Elderly Palestinian women in Jordan’s AlAkaba refugee camp, near Amman. Photo credit: Reuters
The United States Ambassador to Jordan Henry T. Wooster and the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, visited the UNRWA Baqa'a Health Centre, located north of Amman, on the heel of the U.S. announcement last week to resume support to UNRWA.
The Director of UNRWA Affairs in Jordan, Marta Lorenzo, and Eng. Rafiq Khirfan, Director-General of the Department of Palestinian Affairs accompanied them on the visit.
During this visit to the UNRWA Health Centre, Ambassador Wooster said: "The U.S. government is proud to once again support the Palestinian refugee community in Jordan – and Health Centers like this one – through UNRWA, and in close partnership with the Government of Jordan. Just last week, the U.S. government announced the resumption of U.S. assistance to UNRWA with US$ 150 million in new funding for UNRWA's operations in the region, including here in Jordan”.
“This funding will provide healthcare and medicines, COVID-19 prevention, emergency relief, and access to education. As with all U.S. assistance programs, our partnership with UNRWA will always embody high standards and commitment to accountability, efficiency, and transparency. We look forward to this collaborative effort to do what we all want to do is help people in need. We have no better partner than UNRWA in this effort”, he added.
During the visit, Ambassador Wooster was briefed on the progress of the government-led COVID-19 vaccination campaign at the Baqa'a Health Centre, one of the COVID-19 vaccination hubs designated by Jordan's Ministry of Health as part of the country's policy on providing equitable vaccines to all.
Ambassador Wooster previously visited the Baqa'a Health Centre in 2016 to inaugurate the expansion of medical facility, supported by U.S. funding to UNRWA.
"I welcome the resumption of U.S. support to UNRWA and welcome the renewed engagement of a longtime partner," said Lazzarini. "The adaptability and responsiveness of the UNRWA medical teams throughout the pandemic and their increased reliance on modern technology, including mobile health applications, are key to the contributions of UNRWA to the field of public health in Jordan."
The resumption of U.S. assistance will help the UNRWA Jordan Field Office to continue its services to more than 2.4 million Palestine refugees. Services include quality education to almost 120,000 students at 169 UNRWA schools, health services at 25 health centres around the Kingdom, emergency to the most vulnerable Palestine refugees, including some 18,000 Palestine refugees from Syria in Jordan.
"COVID-19 and ensuing closures and lockdown have put an enormous pressure on everyone in Jordan including Palestine refugees. Limited resources have restricted the ability of UNRWA to step up its services to be able to fully respond to dire needs," said Lorenzo. "We chose to show this location for the U.S. Ambassador to demonstrate the relevance and adaptability of UNRWA services, the continued primary health services, and emergency response we provide during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to vaccination services in cooperation with the Jordanian Ministry of Health. These are among the many examples of modern, quality services the Agency provides when it receives adequate funding."
Palestinian refugees in Jordan are confronted with increased hardship and vulnerability, due to long-term displacement and difficult socio-economic conditions, coupled with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNRWA said Palestinian refugees in Jordan are highly vulnerable and hundreds of recorded refugees are members of female-headed households, which increases their vulnerability.
Palestinian refugees who have entered from conflict zones, including Syria, to Jordan irregularly are living under continuous risk of arrest, detention and potential for forced deportation. Their lack of legal status and corresponding protection risks in Jordan are a source of major concern.