Sheikha Fatima Rehabilitation Centre for children in Palestine awaits opening

Palestine's largest Rehabilitation centre for disabled children will soon open its doors, thanks to a humanitarian gesture of the Mother of United Arab Emirates Her Highness Sheikha Fatima.

Upon completion of the construction works of the 'Sheikha Fatima Rehabilitation Centre for the Disabled', the UAE Red Crescent Authority handed over the building to the Palestinian Minister of Social Affairs and Agriculture Mahmoud Al-Habash, at a special ceremony held in the suburbs of the historical city of Al-Khalil, last week.

In a land where the palpable sense of loss and feeling of hopelessness haunt Palestinian children crippled by Israeli attacks, the Sheikha Fatima Rehabilitation Centre will rekindle the light of hope and determination.

The project, which cost over US$ 3mn, was largely funded by Sheikha Fatima, the Honorary Chairperson of the UAE Red Crescent Authority (UAERCA), and Chairperson of General Woman's Union. The UN Development Programme and International Labour Organisation jointly supervised the project execution.

Many Palestinian children, who lost parts of their bodies in the indiscriminate attacks by Israeli forces, and had to be confined to their homes with their dreams shattered, will now have a comfort, as the Rehabilitation Centre will give them necessary training, enabling them to integrate into normal life. The centre can accept a batch of 200 children at one point of time and give them vocational training, empowering them to work and earn.

At the ceremony, the Palestinian minister hailed the wholehearted support of the UAE to the Palestinian cause. He also praised the humanitarian stance of Sheikha Fatima and the UAE Red Crescent Authority, who never failed to respond to the call of the Palestinian people for help.

In a statement made shortly after the hand-over ceremony, the minister said that the project is yet another expression of the deep-rooted heritage of UAE of giving necessary help and support to the people of Palestine.

The Rehabilitation Centre, situated midway between the historical cities of Al-Khalil and Bethlehem, is the first of its kind in the region, and half of its cost was funded by Sheikha Fatima.

Undersecretary of the Ministry of Social Affairs of Palestine Dawood Al-Deweik told the Emirates News Agency (WAM) that the Palestinian people will never forget Sheikha Fatima's benevolent gesture, which have brought the hope back to the disabled Palestinian children According to UN reports, the decades of hardship, pressure and fear have left an indelible mark on Palestine's children, who, in the occupied Palestinian territory alone, constitute over half of the population.

In 'A World fit for Children' envisioned by the United Nations, special emphasis has been placed on a child's 'right to life, the right to be with family and community, the right to health, the right to development and the right to be nurtured and protected'.

Representative of the UNDP in Palestine Khalid Shahwan said that the 'Sheikha Fatima Rehabilitation Centre for Children' is the largest project UNDP has supervised so far in the Palestinian cities. He said that after the completion of the construction, the works are underway to provide the centre with necessary equipments and machinery.

Hundreds of Palestinian children are waiting impatiently, the opening of the rehabilitation centre, Shahwan added. - Emirates News Agency, WAM