GAZA CITY: Palestinians wearing a protective masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic attend a rally to protest the reduction of the food basket provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza City, on October 14, 2020. – AFP

AMMAN/RAMALLAH: Jordan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Al-Safadi commended Kuwait’s backing to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to help it provide basic services to Palestinians. A ministry statement quoted Safadi as lauding Kuwait and the UK’s declaration to offer $23 million as an urgent additional financial support to the UNRWA to help it continue providing basic services in its five areas.

Safadi and his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde chaired on Thursday the third strategic dialogue via videoconference to mobilize support to the UNRWA so as to aid the Palestinian refugees. The meeting was held in participation of Kuwait to discuss common efforts made to back the agency and find practical methods that ensure facing financial challenges.

Safadi stressed the necessity of providing continued services by the UNRWA until reaching a fair and permanent solution to the issue of the Palestinian refugees in line with the international law and relevant UN resolutions mainly 194 as well as a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a two-state solution. Safadi warned against the humanitarian, political and security repercussions that would result from the Agency’s inability to assume its UN mandate and provide its vital services to the Palestinian refugees in the five areas. He pointed that depriving millions of refugees of their right to education, health and relief will deepen the refugees’ humanitarian suffering.

Essential services
Kuwait’s Foreign Minister and Acting Defense Minister Sheikh Dr Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah chaired the Kuwaiti delegation to the dialogue conference co-held upon a common call by Jordan and Sweden. The conference included foreign ministers of Kuwait, Norway and Japan, as well as some senior officials from France, the UK and Germany and others.

“Kuwait is committed to the protection of Palestinian refugees to ensure their access to essential services,” Sheikh Dr Ahmad said during the conference, where he announced that Kuwait would provide a sum of $1.5 million in immediate aid to UNRWA in a bid to ensure the cash-strapped body’s services remain uninterrupted.

The minister said his country supported the “path of institutional reform” the UN agency has pursued, praising UNRWA’s determination to remain active and its commitment to its goals. Describing UNRWA as a “pillar of stability” in the region, the Kuwaiti foreign minister said it was imperative the agency is able to plug funding gaps needed to keep operating persistently. UNRWA provides essential services to Palestinian refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza.

Kuwaiti grant
In other news, the Palestinian Health Ministry announced that it received $5.5 million from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) as part of a previously pledged Kuwaiti grant worth $250 million. Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila said in a press statement that the ministry also obtained a grant estimated at $5.5 million from Al-Aqsa Fund. She noted that the two grants support the ministry’s efforts to combat the novel coronavirus and provide good medical services in the Gaza Strip and West Bank’s governorates.

She, on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and the ministry’s staff, expressed gratitude to the KFAED and Al-Aqsa Fund as well as the Islamic Development Bank for big continued efforts in providing support and grants to the Palestinian health sector. Meanwhile, Shtayyeh’s advisor for Islamic and Arab funds Nasser Qatami, said that the Kuwaiti funding offered on Thursday is part of the $250 million grant pledged by Kuwait to reconstruct the Strip. “We are very grateful to our brothers in Kuwait for their support to the Palestinian people and continued assistance to back our issue on financial and political levels,” he said. – KUNA