Aqbat Jabr camp. © 2015 UNRWA Photo by Dominiek Benoot
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Government of Japan on Wednesday celebrated the completion of the Construction of Sewage Network in Aqbat Jabr Palestine Refugee Camp in the West Bank.
The ceremony was attended by the Japanese Ambassador to Palestinian territories, Masayuki Magoshi, the Director of UNRWA's Affairs in the West Bank, Gwyn Lewis, Yasr abu Kishk and Kanaan AL Jamal representing the Department of Refugee Affairs (DoRA), Jihad Abu AL Asal the governor, Salem Al Grouf the Mayor of the city and representatives of the local community, according to WAFA news agency
In his speech during the closing ceremony, the Japanese Ambassador said that “this project would dramatically improve circumstances of Aqbat Jabr refugee camp residents by having contributed significantly to the infrastructure in the refugee camp; and waste water management is an integral part of infrastructure in the effort to reduce threats to the public health of people and to safeguard the environment, especially, under the current COVID-19 crisis.”
Magoshi added: “Through these efforts, we are contributing to improving the environment in the area and protecting precious natural resources. In this regard, we are also supporting the construction of a sewage network in Ein Sultan refugee camp in collaboration with UNRWA.”
In response, the Director of UNRWA Affairs in the West Bank, Gwyn Lewis thanked the Japanese for their continuous support to Palestine refugees, stressing that: “Thanks to this generous contribution, and by working together in phase one and two of the project, we have been able to connect 1,236 households to the Jericho sewage system. This represents a significant accomplishments and translates into real improvements in the daily lives of the Palestine refugees living in Aqbat Jabr.”
Thanking UNRWA and Japan, Jamal Awadat, the head of Aqbet Jabr camp services committee said: “The most important thing about this project is that it came right on time, as people have started making random cesspits, which started to negatively impact the incremental health in the camp and reduced the spaces the residents could have used had their houses been connected to the sewerage system.”
Thanking the People and the government of Japan for all of their support to all camps in the West Bank and to the department of refugee affairs, Awadat called to connect the rest of the houses in the camp as well.
Through the grant agreement of $6.2 million, this project allowed the construction of approximately 54 km of sewerage network in phase two, connected to three main manholes of the Jericho sewerage system, followed by the connection of 748 households in Aqbet Jabr camp. This is the second phase of this important collaboration and has meant that the majority of the camp is now connected to the main sewage lines.
The connection of the majority of households to a functioning and sustainable sewage network system will ultimately improve their health, environment, quality of life and living conditions. Prior to the project, camp residents often used old and deteriorated cesspits, which led to the contamination of the ground water and posed risks for contaminated water-borne diseases. The construction of the sewage network therefore contributes to reducing environmental hazards and improving sanitary conditions for the 9,803 Palestine refugees living inside the camp.
Aqbat Jabr camp, located southwest of Jericho in the Jordan valley, is the largest camp in the West Bank by surface area. Prior to the 1967 Israeli attacks, it was also one of the most populated camps, with approximately 30,000 refugees. Around 25,000 residents were displaced by the 1967 hostilities.