EU Ups Annual Aid Package to First of Year

BRUSSELS, January 16, 2013 (WAFA) – The European Union has decided to bring forward the first part of its €100 million 2013 assistance package for the Palestinian people to the beginning of the year, an EU press release said Tuesday.

This will make sure that the Palestinian Authority (PA), which will receive €60 million of the total, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA), which will get the remaining €40 million, continue to provide vital services to the Palestinian people, it added.

The €60 million will go toward payment of salaries and pensions for the first three months of 2013 and the €40 million will go to UNWRA’s 2013 regular budget.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that with this aid package, the European Union “was again doing its utmost to underpin the ability of the PA and UNRWA to deliver essential services to the Palestinian people without interruption.”

“We are committed to continuing our support while urging other donors to follow suit,” she said.

EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Štefan Füle, said in announcing the adoption of the package that the PA had particular problems in obtaining donor funds early in the year.

“The EU is aware of this and, as a reliable donor, has taken steps to alleviate the problem,” he said. “These funds for both the PA and UNWRA for early 2013 are vital for ensuring that there is no interruption in the provision of the basic health and education services which the Palestinian people need.”

In addition to the EU aid package, a further amount of €2 million was allocated from 2012 funds to rebuild shelters for around 100 of the poorest Palestinian refugee families in Jordan’s Jerash Refugee Camp, which was set up as an “emergency” camp in 1968 to accommodate 11,500 ex-Gazan refugees (Palestine refugees who fled to Gaza in 1948 and were displaced from Gaza in 1967) and “displaced persons” from Gaza (Gaza residents who were displaced in 1967 for the first time) who fled from the Gaza Strip as a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Although Jerash refugees are entitled to hold temporary, two-year Jordanian passports, unlike West Bank Palestinians in Jordan they have no national ID number and are thereby excluded from working in a wide range of services and professions in Jordan.

Source: WAFA News