Belgian Minister visits Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp

1 Minister Kitir
Minister Kitir at the Baqaa camp UNRWA school for girls ( Handout from UNRWA)
AMMAN — The Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation and Major Cities Policy, Meryame Kitir, visited the Baqaa Palestinian Refugee Camp Monday to inspect United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) installations, according to a press statementاضافة اعلان

Kitir was accompanied by the Ambassador of Belgium to Jordan Filip Vanden Bulcke, the minister’s chief of staff, Anke van Lancker, the diplomatic advisor of the minister Bart De Wolf, as well as Deputy Director of UNRWA Affairs in Jordan Marta Lorenzo, and UNRWA staff.

Minister Kitir was briefed on the progress made by the government-led equitable COVID-19 vaccination campaign currently being implemented at three UNRWA health centers, which are Baqaa, Zarqa and Irbid. 

During a visit of UNRWA’s Baqaa girls school, the delegation was briefed about the state of the Palestinian refugee population in Jordan and recent developments in UNRWA operations across the Middle East. Special attention was paid to the vulnerabilities faced by ex-Gazan refugees and Palestinian refugees from Syria.

Highlighted were UNRWA’s adaptation of operations to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the agency’s priorities to better address the needs of Palestinian refugees, with a focus on the Education in Emergencies (EiE) program which UNRWA adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The EiE aimed to ensure that refugee children can continue benefit from their right to quality, safe and inclusive education amidst crisis and conflict. The Kingdom of Belgium has been offering vital support to the program since 2016.

The delegation observed first hand UNRWA’s COVID 19 response in action at the agency’s Baqaa health center, where they were briefed on how UNRWA’s Health Program ensures service continuity by investing in digitization, all while abiding by protective measures. Digitization includes smart phone applications and telemedicine services to ensure that refugees receive quality health care safely, avoiding gatherings and overcrowding.

“I am very impressed by what the many staff members of UNRWA have managed to achieve here every day. They have done a great deal to enable young people to continue to benefit from education despite the coronavirus. With their efforts to vaccinate people inside the camp, they make a huge difference in the fight against this pandemic,” the minister said. 

Marta Lorenzo, director of UNRWA Affairs in Jordan, said: "We were delighted to have Minister Kitir visit Baqaa Camp today. The Kingdom of Belgium has always been a strong supporter of the agency by contributing to education, health care and social services to help empower Palestinian refugees and advocate for their wellbeing and dignity."

At the end of her visit, Kitir met UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini, who thanked her for Belgium’s strong commitment and support to UNRWA’s operations. The two sides discussed ways to further enhance cooperation between Belgium and UNRWA, and strategies to ensure effective continued support to provide vital health, education, and relief services to Palestine refugees.

Belgium is amongst UNRWA’s most reliable and committed partners, supporting the Agency for decades, including as a member of the UNRWA Advisory Commission since 1953. In 2020, Belgium was the Agency’s 17th largest donor, contributing EUR 11.25 million.

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