Today, United States Ambassador to Jordan H.E Henry T. Wooster and the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, visited the UNRWA Baqa’a Health Centre, located north of Amman. The Director of UNRWA Affairs in Jordan, Ms. Marta Lorenzo, and H.E. Eng. Rafiq Khirfan, Director-General of the Department of Palestinian Affairs accompanied them on the visit that comes on the heel of the U.S. announcement last week resumption of support to UNRWA.
During this visit to the UNRWA Health Centre, Ambassador Wooster said: “The U.S. government is proud to once again support the Palestinian refugee community in Jordan – and Health Centers like this one – through UNRWA, and in close partnership with the Government of Jordan. Just last week, the U.S. government announced the resumption of U.S. assistance to UNRWA with US$ 150 million in new funding for UNRWA’s operations in the region, including here in Jordan. This funding will provide healthcare and medicines, COVID-19 prevention, emergency relief, and access to education. As with all U.S. assistance programs, our partnership with UNRWA will always embody high standards and commitment to accountability, efficiency, and transparency. We look forward to this collaborative effort to do what we all want to do is help people in need. We have no better partner than UNRWA in this effort.”
During the visit, Ambassador Wooster was briefed on the progress of the government-led COVID-19 vaccination campaign at the Baqa’a Health Centre, one of the COVID-19 vaccination hubs designated by Jordan’s Ministry of Health as part of the country’s policy on providing equitable vaccines to all. UNRWA has adjusted the delivery of its primary health services during the pandemic to ensure continued access to all Palestine refugees while supporting national efforts in preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Jordan. Through a patient and family-centered approach, the Agency has provided uninterrupted services throughout the pandemic, including door to door delivery of medications to chronic patients and virtual health services. Ambassador Wooster previously visited the Baqa’a Health Centre in 2016 to inaugurate the expansion of medical facility, supported by U.S. funding to UNRWA.
“I welcome the resumption of U.S. support to UNRWA and welcome the renewed engagement of a longtime partner,” said Mr. Lazzarini. “The adaptability and responsiveness of the UNRWA medical teams throughout the pandemic and their increased reliance on modern technology, including mobile health applications, are key to the contributions of UNRWA to the field of public health in Jordan.”
The resumption of U.S. assistance will greatly help the UNRWA Jordan Field Office to continue its services to more than 2.4 million Palestine refugees. Services include quality education to almost 120,000 students at 169 UNRWA schools, health services at 25 health centres around the Kingdom, emergency to the most vulnerable Palestine refugees, including some 18,000 Palestine refugees from Syria in Jordan. “COVID-19 and ensuing closures and lockdown have put an enormous pressure on everyone in Jordan including Palestine refugees. Limited resources have restricted the ability of UNRWA to step up its services to be able to fully respond to dire needs,” said Ms. Lorenzo. “We chose to show this location for the U.S. Ambassador to demonstrate the relevance and adaptability of UNRWA services, the continued primary health services and emergency response we provide during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to vaccination services in cooperation with the Jordanian Ministry of Health. These are among the many examples of modern, quality services the Agency provides when it receives adequate funding.”
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.