10 October 2021
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) signed a cooperation and partnership agreement with Akram Sbitany & Sons Company, on the occasion of World Mental Health Day, 10 October. This partnership will support mental health projects for Palestine refugee students in the Gaza Strip.
The agreement was signed by Mr. Karim Amer, UNRWA Director of Partnerships, and Mr. Omar Mazen Sbitany, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Sbitany.
Under this agreement, Sbitany, the largest electronics retailers in the occupied Palestinian territory, will launch a fundraising and awareness campaign among employees and customers in 31 of the company's branches across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The thirty-day campaign will conclude with a Sbitany management match donation. This funding will support mental health programmes in a number of UNRWA schools in Gaza.
Speaking to the importance of increased partnerships, Mr. Amer said: "UNRWA is proud to unite with local partners and donors to provide increased services to Palestine refugees. Together we can help Palestine refugee youth recover from the psychosocial trauma caused by repeated cycles of violence in Gaza."
Representing Sbitany, Deputy CEO Mr. Omar M. Sbitany, said, “Giving back to our community is an integral part of our values and at the heart of our Corporate Social Responsibility Program “WeCare" is a joint fund between Sbitany company, its employees and customers that focuses on giving back to the local community of which we are a part of. We are proud to partner with UNRWA and support this crucial initiative and shed light on mental health needs.”
The ongoing blockade and cycles of escalating violence have created a mental health crisis that leaves two million Palestinian lives impacted by trauma. The latest assault on Gaza has exacerbated the need for mental health services. UNRWA mental health providers are on the front lines, working around the clock to provide services for the men, women and children who suffer the lasting impacts of this violence. Through group and individual counselling, in-school counselling with students and teachers and free crisis hotlines -- these heroes without capes are giving Palestine refugees the tools they need to not only survive but regain hope.
Of the two million Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza Strip, some 70 per cent are refugees, dependent on UNRWA for humanitarian assistance. The long-standing blockade has pushed large segments of the population below the poverty line. During the last 11-day round of hostilities, Palestine refugees found themselves combating the COVID-19 pandemic, a fragile economy, internal separation, uncertainty, and a lack of any future perspective on an end to the blockade.