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Towards an improved social protection: European Union and
Palestinian Authority Ministry of Social Affairs celebrate joint achievements
The European Union and the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Social Affairs honoured today the Ministry's employees who excelled in a training programme in social administration, strategic planning and delivery of social services. The PA Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad and the EU Head of Operations Mr. Sergio Piccolo awarded the certificates to 88 trainees at a ceremony organized at Ramallah's Red Crescent Conference Centre. More than 100 of the Ministry's civil servants travelled from across the West Bank to take part in the celebration.
The ceremony was the culmination of a two year effort by the EU and the Ministry of Social Affairs to develop an equitable, comprehensive and efficient social protection system in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Since April 2010, the Ministry, with the support of the EU, has been working on improving its practices to meet international standards in the field of social protection. Specifically, the EU-funded programme allowed for the development of a business strategy that helped deliver the priorities of the PA's Social Protection Sector Strategy for 2011-2013. Moreover, it focused on strengthening the institutional and policy capacity of the Ministry through the comprehensive training of its staff.
"A national system of social protection which is fair and effective should be a given in any modern, independent state. In the last years you have achieved a lot – not least by putting in place a national cash transfer programme of social allowances which guarantees that the relief reaches those in greatest need and covers both the West Bank and Gaza", said the EU Head of Operations, Mr Sergio Piccolo speaking at the ceremony. "I would like to commend the Minister of Social Affairs, Majeda Al-Masri, and the entire Ministry's staff for your achievements to date, hard work and commitment". "For the EU this has been a major investment and an exemplary programme which we want to see advance even further. As you know, we have been working with the Ministry on two fronts; the institutional building efforts are coupled with regular financial contributions to the payment of social allowances as a means of helping the PA meet its recurring expenditure, whilst it moves ahead with structural and policy reforms", added the EU Head of Operations.
For the last four years the EU has taken the lead in the social protection sector in the oPt in an effort to reduce poverty and improve social inclusion. Since 2008, the EU and other donors – through the use of the EU financial mechanism PEGASE - have contributed over € 172 million to the payment of social allowances to eligible households living under extreme poverty in the West Bank and Gaza. The EU has plans to continue its technical support to the Ministry of Social Affairs for the coming three years to further promote good practice in policy formulation and allow the Palestinian Authority realize in full its Social Protection Sector strategy