JERUSALEM, Thursday, April 9, 2020 (WAFA) - The European Union Representative announced today, during a meeting with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, an assistance package of around €71 million to respond to the coronavirus pandemic in Palestine.
The European Union (EU) welcomes the preventive measures so far taken by the Palestinian Authority, as well as the COVID-19 Response Plan. The EU notes the challenges linked to implementing the response plan including the fact that the occupied Palestinian territory is economically dependent on Israel, restrictions on movement and access for Palestinians, and the complex challenges in the Gaza Strip under blockade. The EU‘s assistance package, which also includes humanitarian aid, is a direct response to the Palestinian Authority‘s COIVD-19 Response Plan.
“The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented, global public health emergency with repercussions for our citizens, societies and economies. This is a time for solidarity between peoples and the time for us to stand together. The EU recognises that Palestinians, like Europeans and many others, are severely affected," said the EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff during the meeting.
“Today‘s announcement is crucial to make sure that Palestinians are better equipped to fight the economic and social impact of this global pandemic. It is a message from the European Union that Palestine does not stand alone, rather we stand together in our fight against Covid-19,” he added.
Healthcare, being a global priority in this crisis, is also a priority in EU assistance to Palestinians. Thus, the EU will contribute €9.5 million more to the six East Jerusalem hospitals, in addition to the EU‘s annual support of €13 million, to help them to carry out testing and medical care for Palestinians affected by the virus. To support the production of protection equipment in the healthcare sector, the EU will help to stimulate local production by Palestinian companies. The EU will also advance a payment of €40 million to PA civil servants to ensure that the PA has sufficient funds to cover the extra expenses foreseen in its response plan.
The EU will increase its support to Palestinian small and medium-sized businesses by €5.5 million, so that they can continue in their role as the backbone of the Palestinian economy. The EU will also adjust its efforts to help farmers and agri-businesses to stay afloat during the crisis.
The EU will also increase its efforts to address the broader social impact of the crisis by supporting incomes. An additional €5 million will support the most vulnerable, whose numbers are expected to increase in the weeks ahead as a consequence of the economic impact of crisis measures taken.
In addition, the EU pledged €6.9 million in humanitarian aid to non-governmental organisations and UN agencies already present on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The funding will enable them to step up infection prevention and control measures and also help the most vulnerable segments of the population with emergency health care, access to water and sanitation services and cash transfers.
Moreover and under the Foreign Policy Instrument, the EU will provide a new allocation of EUR 4 million that will be given to UNRWA for much needed refugee support in both the West Bank and Gaza.
Finally, the EU has made an early payment of its entire €82 million contribution to UNRWA‘s programme budget in 2020. This will enable the Agency to keep addressing the challenges faced by Palestine refugees, today particularly hit by the pandemic. In this regard, a further €36 million for UNRWA in Jordan and Lebanon is also being reoriented to focus on immediate health needs.