UNRWA – Press and information team / July 28, 2020
The European Union, Austria, and Ireland provided € 23.5 million to help the Palestinian Ministry of Social Development pay social allowances for 114,000 vulnerable Palestinian family. This is the second payment of social allowances in 2020. It comes ahead of Eid al-Adha amid unprecedented economic and social challenges faced by the Palestinian people due to the implications of the Covid-19 crisis and recent political developments.
The EU supports the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Social Development, which is responsible for the provision of basic social protection to the most vulnerable families in the West Bank and Gaza through its Cash Transfer Programme. Social allowances are paid on a quarterly basis to vulnerable Palestinian families. In this second payment of 2020, an additional 9,000 families from Gaza were added to the list bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 114,000 vulnerable Palestinian families.
At the request of the Ministry of Finance, the European Union has doubled its financial contribution for this payment and provided € 21.5 million. Austria and Ireland have also provided EUR 1 million each. Thus, this contribution demonstrates once again the EU and its Member States’ recognition of the importance of the Cash Transfer Programme as the most reliable, predictable and scalable tool to mitigate the implications of COVID-19 crisis on the most vulnerable families.
“Palestinians are facing unprecedented health, economic, social, and political challenges. The new cases of Covid-19 are rising in alerting rates and putting the Palestinian health system under tremendous pressure. The fiscal situation of the Palestinian Authority is clearly unsustainable. People are losing their jobs, families are losing their income, and the social protection system is over-stretched. On top of that the Palestinians are also facing the threat of annexation. In these difficult times, the European Union, under the Team Europe approach, is doing all it can to demonstrate its unwavering support to the Palestinian people through timely, un-bureaucratic and targeted action. This contribution is yet another evidence of our reliable support to the Palestinians in difficult times,” said EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff.
“Successful national COVID-19 responses need to rely on effective social protection systems which especially support vulnerable people. In the occupied Palestinian territories, a health crisis of this magnitude, combined with the hardship that the Palestinian people have been facing for the past decades, is only doing its share to deteriorate the local socio-economic situation. We are therefore pleased to release the Austrian Development Cooperation’s second transfer for the PEGASE social assistance program of this year. We are relieved to know that our support will help reduce the burden of many vulnerable families. This kind of social protection is indispensable to manage the COVID-19 crisis and we encourage all responsible authorities to assure its continuation” said Astrid Wein, the Austrian Representative in Ramallah.
“The Palestinian Authority’s Cash Transfer Programme provides a vital lifeline to those who need it most. While no one remains unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, certain groups are more vulnerable than others to the socio-economic impacts of the crisis. Ireland is pleased to join with the Palestinian Authority and our European partners through the Team Europe approach to help support the most vulnerable members of Palestinian society and to ensure that we reach the furthest behind first,” said Jonathan Conlon, Representative of Ireland in Palestine.
Since 2008, most of the European Union’s assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) is channelled through the PEGASE Direct Financial Support, supporting the PA reform process and various national development plans, currently the National Policy Agenda (NPA) 2017-2022. PEGASE supports the PA’s recurrent expenditures, mainly the salaries and pensions of civil servants, the social allowances paid through the cash transfer programme and part of the costs of referrals to the East Jerusalem Hospitals. Since February 2008, over € 2.8 billion were disbursed through PEGASE by the European Commission and various development partners, namely EU Member States. In addition, the EU provides assistance to the Palestinian people through UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, as well as through a wide range of other cooperation projects. The European Joint Strategy 2017-2020 builds the basis/framework for this engagement and provides a joint EU response to the NPA priorities, including major reforms and development programmes implemented by key ministries in preparation for statehood.