A high-level delegation from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), headed by the Agency’s Director Antón Leis García, accompanied by members from AECID in Jordan and from the occupied Palestinian Territory, concluded a two-day visit to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) installations in Aida Camp in the occupied West Bank and Baqa’a Camp in Jordan.
In the West Bank, the delegation was welcomed by the Acting Director of UNRWA Affairs West Bank, Dorothee Klaus, who briefed them on the operational context, programmatic priorities, achievements and challenges faced by both UNRWA and Palestine refugee camp residents. The delegation was also briefed on protection-related challenges and risks across the occupied West Bank with major focus on Aida Camp.
In Jordan, the delegation, joined by Spanish Ambassador to Jordan, Miguel de Lucas, was received by the Deputy Director of UNRWA Affairs in Jordan, Olaf Becker, and UNRWA Chief of Staff, Ben Majekodunmi, at the UNRWA Baqa’a Preparatory Girls’ School where they were briefed on the Agency’s programmes, in specific, issues relating to education, protection and environmental health, as well as the AECID-funded project in Baqa’a Camp. This was followed by an interactive dialogue with members from UNRWA Student Parliament and a visit to an UNRWA health centre.
Deputy Director of UNRWA Affairs Olaf Becker said: “UNRWA is grateful for the Spanish Government and for the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation for their strong support to UNRWA and Palestine refugees in the region. Such support to the Agency’s programme budget and projects ensures the continued provision of quality services, modernization and contributes to stability in the region.”
AECID is currently funding a project piloted in Baqa’a camp and is to be rolled out in many other camps following the end of the pilot project. The project includes a study on feasibility of recycling opportunities, assessment of the camp’s water supply network, feasibility of water harvesting systems in UNRWA facilities, solid waste management and green spaces. The project is expected to be rolled out in ten other camps with focus on environmental sustainability, solid waste management and improved accessibility in shelters for persons with disabilities.
AECID Director Antón Leis García said: “In a challenging regional and global context, our collaboration with UNRWA is as important as ever. As a new, innovative step in this partnership, UNRWA and AECID will work in Baqa’a to improve the daily lives of Palestine refugees by enhancing access to basic services and promoting a cleaner environment. We are confident that AECID´s involvement in this pilot phase will help scale up the project in the future with additional financial support from other partners.”.
Spain’s contribution to UNRWA includes both Ministry of Foreign Affairs and AECID funds and decentralized contributions. In 2021, the country’s contribution totaled EUR 17.4 million including an extraordinary contribution of EUR 3 million to the programme budget in response to the International Conference in November 2021.
The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) is the main management body of Spanish Cooperation, oriented towards the fight against poverty and sustainable human development. According to its Statute, the Agency was created to promote the full exercise of development, conceived as a fundamental human right, with the fight against poverty being part of the process of building this right. To this end, it follows the guidelines of the 5th Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation, with attention to the cross-cutting elements of Spanish Cooperation: the approach based on human rights and fundamental freedoms, the gender perspective, environmental quality and respect for cultural diversity, in line with the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015 and which will govern global development plans for the next 15 years. It sets out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that include ending world poverty, eradicating hunger and achieving food security, ensuring healthy lives and quality education, achieving gender equality, ensuring access to water and energy, promoting sustained economic growth, taking urgent action on climate change, promoting peace and facilitating access to justice.
AECID is attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation through the Secretariat of State for International Cooperation and for Ibero-America and the Caribbean.
AECID, together with its partners, works in more than 30 countries through its network of Technical Cooperation Offices, Cultural Centres and Training Centres.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.7 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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