oPt

AUSTCARE welcomes Director of Palestinian civil society and peace-building partner to Australia

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"Peacebuilding initiatives in complex protracted conflicts such as those in the Middle East requires continuing Australian support," says AUSTCARE's CEO, Major General Mike Smith AO. "It is essential that we continue to support and learn from experienced community-based organisations, such as the Bisan Centre for Research and Development, that strives to strengthen Palestinian civil society and the foundations for sustainable peace in the Middle East."

"With financial support from the Australian Government and public, AUSTCARE is proud to continue to work in partnership with Bisan in our Middle East program. We particularly welcome the opportunity to host Bisan's Director, Mr Izzat Abdul-Hadi, on his visit to Australia, and to facilitate opportunities for him to share his understanding with the Australian people", says Mike Smith.

From 8 -14 May 2005, AUSTCARE is hosting the visit to Australia of Mr Izzat Abdul-Hadi, the Director of Bisan, AUSTCARE's local partner organisation, for its long-standing Australian-supported program in the Palestinian Territories.

AUSTCARE has worked with Palestinian refugees for over 20 years in the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon. In cooperation with our local Palestinian partners such as Bisan, AUSTCARE enables Australians to contribute to reducing vulnerability to poverty and conflict; to enhance the capacity of Palestinian institutions to provide essential services; and to support effective peacebuilding initiatives in areas such as the northern West Bank which have been severely affected by years of conflict and crises.

AUSTCARE's goal in the Middle East is to reduce poverty and improve self-sufficiency for Palestinian refugees. AUSTCARE and Bisan have partnered successfully since 2001 in a program that has helped the most marginalised in West Bank refugee camps and communities - Palestinian women and youth - to strengthen their resilience and reduce poverty.

How can human resources and institutional capacity be built to develop a sustainable, peaceful and vibrant civil society? What actions are community-based Palestinian organisations taking to reduce vulnerability to conflict, engage the most marginalised, and increase self-reliance for the future? These are issues that AUSTCARE and Bisan confront daily, and questions which the Director of Bisan, Mr Izzat Abdul-Hadi, will address during his visit to Australia.

Bisan was established in 1989 as an independent not-for-profit organisation pursuing a comprehensive approach to development. Bisan promotes the development of Palestinian civil society and has served as a catalyst in promoting community-based development through small business, leadership and skills training, research, and community development activities. Mr Abdul-Hadi has been the Director of Bisan since 1989 and is based in Ramallah, West Bank.

ENDS

For more information, interviews or visuals, please contact:

Elektra Spathopoulos
Fundraising & Communications Manager
Mob: 0422 204 790
E: espathopoulos@austcare.org.au
www.austcare.org.au