Earlier today, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) held an inauguration ceremony in Husn for the newest branch of the Agency’s microfinance programme in Jordan. The branch was inaugurated by UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Sandra Mitchell, with the Governor of Irbid, officials from the Jordanian Department of Palestinian Affairs, staff from the Agency’s Department of Microfinance and community members in attendance.
The newest branch was opened in Husn to provide improved microfinance and microcredit services to Palestine refugees in the area, who previously had to travel to the branch in Irbid to access these services, requiring them to incur high transportation costs. The new location was chosen after the conclusion of a feasibility study that evaluated the programme’s social and financial sustainability and upon consideration of the high concentration of Palestine refugees in the area.
The new branch in Husn, which is the eighth one in Jordan, is expected to provide an additional 2,000 loans each year, with a total value of approximately US$ 1.6 million in the first year, and increase the number of active clients by 1,000 individuals by the end of 2017. The branch will provide microfinance services to Palestine refugees residing in the southern parts of Irbid and in the Husn area, including Husn camp, and will employ 12 staff members.
“We are pleased to inaugurate the newest branch of the Agency’s microfinance programme in Jordan, which will greatly improve the accessibility of our renowned microfinance and microcredit services to Palestine refugees and other entrepreneurial residents in the Husn area,” said Deputy Commissioner-General Sandra Mitchell. “By continuing to provide sustainable income-generation opportunities to these communities, including women and youth, we are able to help reduce poverty, create and sustain jobs, and empower our beneficiaries, contributing to their livelihoods and strengthening their resilience.”
In 2016, the UNRWA microfinance programme in Jordan awarded nearly 13,000 loans, valued at over US$ 14 million. Of the total loan recipients in 2016, 47 per cent were women, 28 per cent were youth and 54 per cent were registered Palestine refugees. Since the programme’s initiation in Jordan in 2003, over 94,000 loans have been awarded, valued at over US$ 111 million.
About the UNRWA microfinance department
The UNRWA microfinance department, created in 1991, provides sustainable income-generation opportunities for Palestine refugees, as well as other poor or marginalized groups who live and work near them. It extends credit and complementary financial services to households, entrepreneurs and small-business owners. These investments create and sustain jobs, reduce poverty and empower our clients, particularly women. In 2015, UNRWA granted a total of 38,193 loans for a total value of US$ 37,898,795.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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