June 15, 2005, Seefeld, Tyrol, Austria - The OPEC Fund for International Development today announced the allocation of fresh resources to its Special Grant Account for Palestine. The US$15 million replenishment was approved by the Fund's highest policy-making body, the Ministerial Council, meeting at its 26th Annual Session in Seefeld, Austria (see separate press release 63/2005).
The Special Account was established by the Fund in 2002, with an initial endowment of US$10 million, to channel assistance to operations that would alleviate hardship and prevent further impoverishment and suffering among the Palestinian people. Boosted by an additional US$15 million in 2004, the Account has supported numerous initiatives, ranging from the rebuilding of damaged infrastructure and the provision of medical assistance, to micro-credit and a wide range of capacity-building and social projects.
The OPEC Fund is working closely with leading Arab aid institutions in the selection and preparation of the projects supported under the special account. Partners include the Islamic Development Bank and the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development, as well as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
As a result of the crisis, the Palestinian people have suffered more than four years of continuous economic decline and widespread physical devastation. Although donors have helped mitigate the impact of the crisis by increasing commitments, gaps in financing still exist. Today's replenishment will allow the Fund to maintain its valued assistance to the Palestinian people.
In addition to operations financed from the Special Account, the OPEC Fund has, over the years, extended more than US$16.5 million in grants to Palestine for a number of emergency assistance schemes and a wide range of regional programs that supported, among others, hospitals, maternity clinics, rehabilitation and vocational training centers and colleges.