OPT: President of European Parliament visits West Bank Refugees

Qalandya camp, 28 May 2007. Hans-Gert Pöttering, the President of the European Parliament, visited Qalandya refugee camp on Monday as part of his Middle East tour.

At the camp's health centre, Pöttering, after checking in on nurse Majeda Farah weighing in seven month old Mohammed Afane at a healthy 7.8kg, spoke with Dr. Umayah Khamash, Chief of UNRWA Health Services in the West Bank. Dr. Khamash told the President that access issues made administering health care a troublesome task. Dr Khamash explained about the problems with transporting vaccines: "transferring vaccines through check points is a nightmare. Some of the vaccines are heavily sensitive to the atmosphere they are in, particularly with regards to temperature. They need to be transferred as quickly as possible. This is often very difficult because of the checkpoints."

After this, President Pöttering visited Qalandiya camp's football field and youth centre where a number of people were carrying out maintenance tasks such as mowing the lawn, planting trees and flowers and painting; all of them employed through the European Commission funded Job Creation Program.

Pöttering also visited the Muhsain's family home, one of UNRWA's special hardship case families, where Basem and Salem, nine and eleven years old, were studying for their final exams next week. He chatted with their mother and grandmother about their economic situation and their struggle to survive due to the fact they have no breadwinner despite UNRWA's efforts.

The President then headed towards Qalandiya girls school to be briefed by Muhannad Beidas, Chief of Education Services in the West Bank. In a lively discussion with a number of girls in one of the classrooms, he shared his own schooling experiences and reminded them of the importance education to secure a better future.