The Director of UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Operations in Jordan, Roger Davies, and the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of the United States, Stephanie Williams, opened today the newly constructed, American-funded health centre in Irbid camp.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Ms. Williams said: “The United States government is committed to supporting Palestinian refugees in Jordan and throughout the region. In 2013, the United States contributed more than US$ 294 million to UNRWA. Our aim in supporting this US$ 1.9 million project is foremost to increase refugees’ access to primary health services, and to improve the quality of the services provided.”
The newly constructed health centre has merged two old health centres in Irbid, which were constructed in the 1960s to meet the needs of the Palestine refugee population living in the Irbid area at the time. They were built to serve much smaller populations – the population of Palestine refugees in Jordan has increased more than three times since 1965. Therefore, the two health centres became overstretched, with extremely cramped working conditions.
Thanking the American donation, Mr. Davies said : “Irbid New Health Centre is considered a one-stop shop where Palestine refugees can get more than one health-care service in the same building, such as general clinic, maternal and child health care and non-communicable diseases health care. This will hopefully enhance access to health-care services provided by UNRWA in the camp.” He continued, “In addition to constructing this new building, the American donation provided funds to construct extensions at the Jerash Health Centre, which were badly needed to improve the services provided to Palestine refugees in Jerash camp.”
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 68 million.
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