UN chooses Palestinian Agency as strategic partner

Exterior view of the United Nations headquarters in New York (Shannon Stapleton - Reuters)

Asharq al-Awsat  /  April 25, 2020

The Palestinian International Cooperation Agency (PICA) has said that the United Nations chose it as a strategic partner over its role in implementing the world organization’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

The director-general of PICA, Imad al-Zuhairi, said in a statement Friday that the UN’s choice also came over the Agency’s role in fighting the coronavirus pandemic through a national awareness and preventive campaign in cooperation with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNRWA, the Palestinian Health Ministry and Bank of Palestine.

Through its new role as a strategic UN partner, PICA would publish its programs and development campaigns on the websites of the world organization’s agencies, said Zuhairi.

Meanwhile, a group of UN human rights experts urged Israel to stop discriminating against thousands of Palestinian captives who are facing high risks as a result of the pandemic.

The experts urged the Israeli government to release the most vulnerable prisoners, including women, children and the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions.

“There are currently more than 4,520 Palestinian prisoners, including 183 children, 43 women and 700 detainees with pre-existing medical conditions in Israeli jails. They remain dangerously vulnerable in the context of the current pandemic and the relative increase in the number of transmission rates in Israel,” said the experts.“Over the past month, Israel has released hundreds of Israeli prisoners as a preventive and protective step. It has not applied similar measures to Palestinian prisoners. This indicates discriminatory treatment towards Palestinian prisoners – which would be a violation of international law,” they added.

The experts said prisoner releases should also include those in administrative and pre-trial detention. “Israel should be taking steps to release those facing arbitrary measures as well as vulnerable groups in its prisons to reduce overcrowding and ensure the minimum conditions to prevent the spread of the virus.”

“It is inconceivable that, in the current conditions, especially in light of the lack of testing kits and other equipment, Israel would undermine existing efforts to ensure that a larger portion of the Palestinian population is tested. Such efforts are especially needed when recent data suggests that rates of COVID-19 have significantly increased in occupied East Jerusalem,” they added.