Tuesday, December 20, 2011

EU Adopts Assistance Package of €160.4 Million to Palestinian Territory

BRUSSELS, 20 December 2011 (WAFA) - The European Commission adopted a new assistance package for the Occupied Palestinian Territory for 2012, amounting to €160.4 million, according to a press released published Monday.

It said two thirds of this will go to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to help it cover wages and pensions for essential civilian workers, particularly medical and teaching staff, as well as social allowances for vulnerable Palestinian families. The funding will also cover arrears of bills by the Palestinian Authority to the private sector for medical supplies.

The remaining amount of €55.4 million will be allocated to the core budget and general fund of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides basic health, education and social services for a Palestinian refugee population of five million people both in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in neighboring states. EU aid to PA is channeled through the EU's assistance mechanism for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, PEGASE, the financial mechanism launched in 2008 to support the three-year Reform and Development Plan presented in 2007.

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Vice President of the Commission, said, 'This decision highlights our commitment to the Palestinian people. It consolidates our support to the Palestinian Authority's institution-building program and contributes to the ability of the PA to provide essential public services. Today’s decision also underlines our support to Palestine refugees, through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.'

EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Štefan Füle, said, 'This is a sign of our strong political and financial commitment to build a democratic and viable Palestinian state, as well as to contributing to the well-being of the Palestinian refugee community,” said the press release.

“We have made a special effort both to mobilize extra funds from this year's budget and to front-load those from next year to respond to the difficult financial situation both the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA face in providing vital services to the Palestinian people. Indeed, I trust that other donors will also share the burden of this support,” he added.

“The total €160.4 million package is made up of a front-loaded amount of €100 million from the 2012 budget together with €0.4 million from 2011. This means that the overall 2012 funds for the Occupied Palestinian Territory can reach the same level as in 2011, with a total allocation of €300 million,” said the press release.


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