India gives $ 2 million aid to UN agency working for Palestinian refugees

Agencies
May 19, 2020

Ramallah, May 19: India has given USD 2 million in aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency working for the welfare of Palestinian refugees in support of its core programmes and services, including education and health, amidst the coronavirus crisis.

India had increased its annual contribution to the UNRWA from USD 1.25 million in 2016 to USD 5 million in 2019. It pledged another USD 5 million for 2020 which opens its way to become a member of the agency's advisory commission, according to official sources.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) applauded India's financial support to keep its basic services operating, especially under the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The contribution was presented to the UN agency by the Representative of India (ROI) to the State of Palestine, Sunil Kumar.

"On behalf of the agency, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Government of India for advancing part of its contribution, which will help UNRWA address cash flow challenges," Marc Lassouaoui, chief of the Donor Relations at the agency said.

"The continued determination and commitment of India in support of the Palestine refugees is commendable, in particular under the current circumstances brought on us by COVID-19," he said.

"On behalf of the Government of India, I would like to express my appreciation for the commendable work and endeavours carried out by the UNRWA. We believe that our contribution will support the agency's activities in providing the needed assistance to Palestinian refugees, and assist in achieving their full human development potential," Kumar said.

India's contribution will support the agency's "dire" financial situation due to the funding gaps that risk its core services to the Palestinian refugees in the fields of education and health.

About 3.1 million Palestine refugees depend on health services provided by the UNRWA. At the same time, the agency's schools educate 526,000 students every year, of which half are female.

The agency was created in December 1949 by the UN to support the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees.

The UNRWA definition of “refugee” covers Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1948 War.

Meanwhile, India is preparing medical supplies for the Palestinians to help them in their fight against the coronavirus which is likely to reach the Palestine soon, the Indian mission in the West Bank said in a statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over phone and discussed the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He appreciated efforts being made by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to protect its population and assured all possible support from India.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar later talked to his Palestinian counterpart Riad Malki and reiterated India's commitment to support Palestine in its battle against the global pandemic.

So far, 554 COVID-19 cases have been detected in the West Bank under PA and east Jerusalem, with two casualties.

Twenty people were found infected with the virus in Gaza, of which 14 are said to have recovered.

Separately, 17 agreements have been signed under an India-Palestine development partnership between the two sides in the fields of agriculture, health care, information technology, youth affairs, consular affairs, women empowerment and media in the past five years.

New Delhi is to provide an assistance of around USD 72 million through these agreements in projects like the post-2014 war reconstruction efforts in Gaza, construction of five schools, setting up a centre of excellence for information and communication technologies at Al-Quds University and developing a satellite centre in Ramallah.

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News Network
September 16,2020

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Tbilisi, Sept 16: The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has approved the setting up of a regional office in Riyadh to support the growth of the Middle East’s tourism sector as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said the UNWTO’s Executive Council members have approved the move to establish the office during a session in Georgia. The office will cover 13 countries within the region, and will serve as a platform to build long-term growth in the travel and tourism sector of the Middle East.

“International cooperation and the role of the UNWTO are more important than ever. I am therefore very excited that Saudi Arabia will become home to the first ever UNWTO Regional Office, which aims to support growth at a national and regional level,” Al-Khateeb said.

“In Saudi Arabia, we are very aware of the transformative power of tourism on the economy and people. We may still be a young destination, but tourism is at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s vision for the future,” he added.

Recently, Al-Khateeb revealed that the Council of Ministers has given the Ministry of Tourism the go ahead to open a regional office of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Riyadh as well as to establish a global academy for tourism training.

Al-Khateeb pointed out that the ministry, in cooperation with UNWTO, would work to lay the foundations and standards that enable the proposed academy to be among the best tourism academies in the world.

It is noteworthy that that the UNWTO secretary general praised the Saudi Summer season during a recent visit to the Kingdom during which he toured a number of Saudi summer destinations. Al-Khateeb hoped that the Kingdom, together with UNWTO, would launch a set of initiatives to develop the tourism sector in the region.

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News Network
September 13,2020

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Dubai, Sept 13: An Indian in the UAE was honoured by the police for returning a bag containing USD 14,000 and gold, a media report said on Saturday.

Retesh James Gupta, who lives in Dubai, was praised by the Dubai Police for his honesty and gave him a certificate of appreciation for being a responsible resident, Gulf News reported.

The bag he returned to the police contained USD 14,000 cash and gold worth 200,000 dirhams (USD 54,452), it said.

Brigadier Yousef Abdullah Salim Al Adidi, Director of Al Qusais Police Station, awarded Gupta at the police station and emphasised the importance of collaboration between the community and police.

It was not immediately known who was the owner of the bag.

Mr Gupta thanked the Dubai Police for awarding him, saying the gesture gave him pride and joy.

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News Network
September 16,2020

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Palestinian resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip have traded strikes with the Israeli military as the signing of contentious normalization treaties between Tel Aviv and two Arab regimes provokes another flare-up in the blockaded territory.

Palestinian Arabic-language Ma’an news agency, citing local sources, reported that Israeli fighter jets and helicopters bombed a training base run by the Hamas resistance movement northwest of Beit Lahiya town early on Wednesday.

Eyewitnesses confirmed that huge explosions were heard in the northern Gaza Strip before the site caught fire.

The sources noted that Israeli warplanes carried out four air raids against the site, while three others were launched by choppers.

Later, Israeli jets targeted another Hamas-run site in an area located between Deir al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip and Khan Yunis in the southern sector of the Palestinian enclave.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in either attack.

The raids came shortly after Palestinian resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of rockets into the Israeli-occupied territories.

Reacting to the news of the fresh flareup, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the overnight rocket fire was meant to undermine Israel's deals with Arab states.

"They want to prevent peace, they won't. We will hit everyone who tries to harm us, and we will extend a hand of peace to all who reach out to us to make peace," Netanyahu said in a statement

‘A message of resistance’

Following the Israeli warplanes’ latest bombardment of the enclave, Hamas issued a warning to the Tel Aviv regime.

"The occupation (Israel) will pay the price for any aggression against our people or resistance sites and the response will be direct," said the resistance group in a statement.

"We will increase and expand our response to the extent that the occupation persists in its aggression," Hamas added on Wednesday.

The Palestinian rockets triggered sirens in the cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, potentially sending hundreds of thousands of Israelis rushing to bomb shelters just as Netanyahu was signing agreements at the White House with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani.

Two people were reportedly injured and several more treated for shock after a rocket slammed into a street in Ashdod, according to Israeli media.

Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, view the US-brokered deals as a betrayal of their cause.

Mohammad al-Hindi, a senior official with the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad resistance movement, said “the Gaza rockets are a message that this great vanity of the United States and Israel will be shattered by the Palestinians and that the final word is for those in the right.”

Hamas also said in a statement that the Palestinian nation “insists on continuing its struggle until it secures the return of all of its rights.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also protested the normalization deals with Israel, stating they will not foster peace in the Middle East as long as the United States and the Israeli regime do not recognize the rights of the Palestinian nation to establish an independent and sovereign state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since June 2007, after Hamas, which has vowed to resist Israeli occupation, won the elections and rose to power in the enclave.

Since imposing the siege, Israel has also waged three wholesale wars against Gaza, killing and wounding thousands of Palestinians in each.

The crippling blockade has caused a sharp decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty in the strip.

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