97 per cent of Palestinian refugees in Jordan displacement camps do not have a social security number. (File photo via The Independent)
Swedish State Secretary for International Development Cooperation, Janine Alm Ericson paid a landmark visit to a school and a health centre run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Souf refugee camp, Jordan.
Ms. Ericson was accompanied by the Director-General of the Swedish International Development Agency Carin Jämtin, the Ambassador of Sweden to Jordan Alexandra Sofia Rydmark, the Director General of the Department of Palestinian Affairs Rafiq Khirfan and the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Jordan Marta Lorenzo.
At the UNRWA Souf Girls School, the delegation received a briefing about the situation of Palestine refugees in Jordan and across the region. They were also briefed about UNRWA operations in education, health, relief and social services as well as cross-cutting priorities and specific vulnerabilities of ex-Gazans and Palestine refugees who fled from Syria.
Further, the visit highlighted the Agency’s adaptation of operations to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and as well as UNRWA opportunities and priorities to better address needs of Palestine refugees this year.
The delegation also had an opportunity to meet Palestine refugee youth studying in UNRWA vocational training centres (VTC). Many shared their experiences and the challenges of learning during the pandemic.
At the UNRWA Souf Health Centre, the delegation was introduced to the way the Agency has adjusted delivery of its primary health services during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure continued access to health care for all Palestine refugees, while also supporting national efforts in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The delegation also listened to a progress of the government-led COVID-19 vaccination campaign conducted in three other UNRWA health centres designated by Jordan’s Ministry of Health, as part of the country's policy on providing equitable vaccines to all.
The visit was concluded by visiting Palestine refugee families residing in Souf refugee camp, where the delegation listened to their living situation and negative impact brought by the COVID-19 pandemic on their socioeconomic situation and how they were supported by UNRWA.
“The difficult situation for the Palestinian people has become even worse during the last year. The pandemic and in some of its fields of operation increasing violence, as well as insufficient funding have made UNRWA’s work more difficult than ever,” said Ericson.
“Despite this, UNRWA has managed to deliver important services to the Palestine refugees. Sweden is a strong political and financial supporter of UNRWA and the rights of Palestine refugees. Later this year, Jordan and Sweden will host an international conference to take important steps towards a sustainable funding of UNRWA. The international community needs to come together to back the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people,” Ericson added.
Marta Lorenzo, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Jordan said “Sweden is one of the top supporters of Palestine refugees for the past 70 years. Their contribution during emergencies and amid a global pandemic enabled the agency to continue assisting refugees especially those who fled from Syria and have no other alternative source of aid but UNRWA, to meet their needs with dignity”.
Sweden is one of the Agency’s top donors, providing critical financial and political support since 1951. In 2021, the Government of Sweden has provided over US$ 50 million in unearmarked support to the Programme Budget and Emergency Appeals and has recently pledged an additional US$ 1.2 million to the oPt Crisis Flash Appeal.