The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Government of Japan celebrated the completion of the construction of a sewage network in Aqbat Jabr refugee camp in the West Bank.
The ceremony was attended by the Japanese Ambassador to Palestinian Territories Mr. Masayuki MAGOSHI, Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Ms. Gwyn Lewis, Mr. Yasr Abu Kishk and Mr. Kanaan Al Jamal, representatives of the Department of Refugee Affairs (DoRA), Mr. Jihad Abu Al Asal, Governor of Jericho, Mr. Salem Al Grouf, Mayor of Jericho and representatives of the local community.
In his speech during the closing ceremony, the Ambassador MAGOSHI emphasized, “This project will dramatically improve the circumstances of Aqbat Jabr refugee camp residents by contributing significantly to the infrastructure in the refugee camp; and wastewater 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.”
Ambassador 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, Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Gwyn Lewis thanked the Government of Japan for their continuous support to Palestine refugees: “Thanks to this generous contribution and by working together in phase I and II of this project, we have been able to connect 1,236 households to the Jericho sewage system. This represents a significant accomplishment and translates into real improvements in the daily lives of the Palestine refugees living in Aqbat Jabr.”
Thanking UNRWA and Japan, Jamal Awadat, head of Aqbat 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. Thanks to the people and the Government of Japan for their support in all camps in the West Bank and to the Department of Refugee Affairs,” Mr. Awadat said and called to connect the remaining houses in the camp.
This generous grant, valued at US$ 6.2 million, has allowed for the construction of approximately 54 km of sewerage network in phase II, connected it to three main manholes of the Jericho sewerage system, and connected 748 households in Aqbat Jabr camp. In this second phase of this project, most of the camp is now connected to the main sewage lines.
The connection of most 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.