Yesterday, the European Commission approved a package of assistance of 252 million and 500 thousand euro to support the Authority and Palestinian refugees. And this is only the first part of the EU’s annual support package for Palestine scheduled for 2016.
The High Representative for the Union’s foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, said: “The European Union renews its concrete commitment to the Palestinians. Through this package, the EU supports the daily lives of Palestinians in the fields of education and health, protecting the poorest families and also providing the Palestinian refugees with access to essential services. These are tangible steps on the ground that can improve the lives of Palestinian people. But these steps are not enough; Palestinian institutions must continue to grow stronger, become more transparent, more accountable and more democratic. Viable and inclusive institutions, based on respect for the rule of law and human rights, are crucial in view of the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State. Because what we want to achieve is the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State living side by side, in peace and security, with the State of Israel and other neighbours“.
The European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement, Johannes Hahn, said: “The EU remains firm in its commitment to Palestinians and actively supports a two-state solution. Our assistance to ensure the functioning of the Palestinian Authority and to support vulnerable Palestinian groups, including Palestinian refugees is a concrete example of this commitment. Let me also thank all EU Member States for their continued backing of EU programmes for this troubled region, which have proved effective”.
From the fund package sent yesterday, 170 million and 500 thousand euro will be sent directly to the Palestinian Authority, through the PEGASE mechanism (Mécanisme Palestino-Européen de Gestion de l’Aide Socio-Economique). With these funds, the EU will support the Palestinian Authority in the delivery of health and educational services, protecting the poorest families and providing financial assistance to hospitals located in East Jerusalem.
The remaining 82 million will constitute a contribution to the budget of the rescue program and the Agency’s work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). This UN body provides essential services for Palestinian refugees throughout the region. This support aims to provide better access to essential public services and increased livelihood opportunities for Palestinian refugees.
A second package of measures, in favor of the Palestinians, will be announced during the year.
For the readers, we specify that the PEGASE is the mechanism through which the EU is helping the Palestinian Authority to build the institutions of a future independent Palestinian state.
Through the payment of pensions and salaries of public officials, it ensures that essential public services continue to work. The PEGASE also provides social services to Palestinian families living in extreme poverty and also a contribution to the Palestinian Authority to support the costs of the hospitals in East Jerusalem.
UNRWA agency also provides essential services for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The EU is the largest contributor of this specialized UN agency. Between 2007 and 2014, the EU has contributed with more than 1 billion euro, including 809 million for the budget of the institution’s program. In addition, the EU has made generous contributions to UNRWA requests in humanitarian emergencies and in projects designed specifically to respond to the various crises and the specific requirements arising in the entire region. The partnership between the EU and UNRWA has allowed millions of Palestinian refugees to be educated, to live a healthier life, to have access to job opportunities and improve the general living conditions, thus contributing to the development of all the region.