Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS
453. Under the first thematic subprogramme, Management of natural resources and environment, issues concerning the assessment and proper management of land, water and energy resources were addressed, as well as environmental degradation resulting from inadequate management of these resources.
454. In the field of environment, ESCWA participated in several meetings and workshops such as the Technical Secretariat of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environment. A report was completed on progress made in the ESCWA plan to implement Agenda 21 in the region which was presented to the Commission at its eighteenth session, in May 1995, as well as to the Commission on Sustainable Development and the Economic and Social Council. Furthermore, ESCWA, in its capacity as a member of the Executive Committee of the Joint Committee on Environment and Development in the Arab Region, participated in its fifth meeting at Cairo in July 1995. The meeting discussed the implementation of the decisions of the second meeting of the Joint Committee and preparations for a meeting on biodiversity in the Arab region. The meeting also included discussions on two technical reports on the establishment of an integrated environmental information network in the Arab region.
455. A report was prepared by ESCWA on activities related to the protection of the ozone layer, while issues pertaining to resource conservation were addressed through studies on wildlife conservation for sustainable development in the Arab countries and the assessment of the fisheries sector in the United Arab Emirates. In the field of water resources, ESCWA organized a meeting at Amman from 12 to 14 September 1994 of the Inter-agency Task Force on modalities of cooperation and coordination among United Nations specialized agencies and Arab regional agencies involved in various water-related activities. The meeting recommended that ESCWA serve as the secretariat for the Inter-agency Task Force. A long-term project on the assessment of water resources using remote-sensing techniques is under way.
456. The second thematic subprogramme, Improvement of the quality of life, includes activities to provide support for ESCWA member States in preparing, at the national and regional levels, for world conferences and meetings. Reports were submitted to the Commission at its eighteenth session on all preparatory and follow-up activities for meetings and conferences such as the International Conference on Population and Development, the International Year of the Family, the World Summit for Social Development, the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and the Fourth World Conference on Women.
457. The Commission participated in the preparatory committee for the World Summit for Social Development and in the Summit itself. It also participated in the Ninth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Cairo from 29 April to 8 May 1995. Other major activities included the preparation of the Arab Declaration for Social Development, which was presented to the Council of Arab Ministers for Social Affairs, the launching of a social development database, the preparation of a project document on human development in the Arab States and a workshop on sustainable human development experiences, held at Cairo from 14 to 19 May 1995. ESCWA also undertook a study on the impact of the recent crisis on the social situation in the ESCWA region, which analyzed the socio-economic impact of crises in the region, with particular emphasis on population migration, the quality of life and vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. ESCWA organized, in this context, a seminar entitled The Role of the Family in Integrating Disabled Women into Society, at Amman from 16 to 18 October 1994.
458. In the area of women and development, ESCWA organized the Arab Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Fourth World Conference on Women, which was held at Amman from 6 to 10 November 1994 and was attended by 420 participants representing all Arab countries. The meeting reviewed the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women and the ESCWA Strategy for Arab Women to the Year 2005. The meeting also finalized the Regional Plan of Action for the Advancement of Arab Women. ESCWA also organized a meeting on the Arab family in a changing society at Abu Dhabi in December 1994, in the context of preparations for the Fourth World Conference on Women. Other activities within this framework included national workshops in nine ESCWA countries to review the national plans of action in the light of national reports on the situation of women. Information on women's issues was addressed through a publication on Arab women in ESCWA member States. This publication includes statistics, indicators and trends. A database on statistics on women was also launched.
459. In the field of rural development, two long-term rural community development projects are being implemented in Egypt and the Syrian Arab Republic. ESCWA continued to issue its annual publication Agriculture and Development in Western Asia (No. 16, December 1994); and it prepared a National Farm Data Handbook for the Syrian Arab Republic. Other publications issued by the secretariat include: Land and Water Policies in the Near East Region; Marketing of Agricultural Products in Lebanon; Evaluation of Agricultural Policies in the Syrian Arab Republic: Policy Analysis Matrix Approach; Prospective Development of the Agricultural Institutions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; and Rehabilitation of Veterinary Services.
460. Information on human settlements issues was disseminated through the publication of a newsletter jointly published by ESCWA, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements and the League of Arab States. ESCWA participated in preparatory meetings for Habitat II and convened at Amman, in March 1995, a regional preparatory meeting for the Conference.
461. In the area of industrial development, ESCWA completed a publication entitled Proceedings of the Expert Group Meeting on the Creation of Indigenous Entrepreneurship and Opportunities for Small and Medium-scale Industrial Investments. In preparation for the Fourth World Conference on Women, the Commission issued a publication entitled Participation of Women in Manufacturing: Patterns, Determinants and Analysis. Several training-of-trainers workshops on how to start a business in war-torn areas were held in Bethlehem, Gaza, Nablus and Beirut. Moreover, a pilot workshop on upgrading entrepreneurial skills of managers of small and medium enterprises under changing conditions, was held at Amman in September 1994. A study was completed entitled Impact of the single European market on the industrial sector in the ESCWA region; and two project documents were completed for the establishment of business incubators in the occupied Palestinian territories.
462. The third thematic subprogramme, Economic development and cooperation, involved activities dealing with such central issues as promoting economic and technical cooperation and integration among ESCWA countries, promoting coordinated regional strategies, training officials in developing national capabilities in managerial skills, and reviewing and analysing economic performance, policies and strategies.
463. The Survey of Economic and Social Developments in the ESCWA Region, 1993 was issued in November 1994. The Survey for 1994 was completed in July 1995. Within the same context, a study was completed on Review of developments and issues in the external trade and payments situation of countries of Western Asia, which included a chapter on the implications of the Uruguay Round on development in the region. A study was also completed entitled Review of developments and trends in the monetary and financial sectors in the economies of the ESCWA region.
464. The proceedings of four workshops/conferences were published, namely: the Western Asia workshop on strategies for accelerating the development of civil registration and vital statistics system; the Second Arab Conference on Perspectives of Modern Biotechnology; the workshop on the implication of the new advanced materials technologies for the economies of the ESCWA countries; and the workshop on the integration of science and technology in the development planning and management process in the ESCWA region.
465. In the area of transport and communications, a report was submitted to the Commission at its eighteenth session on the Follow-up action of the implementation of the Transport and Communications Decade, second phase: 1992-1996. Furthermore, studies were completed on Development of free zones in Western Asia; Development of the telecommunications sector in the ESCWA region; and Present status, development trends and future prospects of telecommunications in the ESCWA region; and the ESCWA Transport Bulletin for 1994 (No. 5) was issued. Additionally, the ESCWA secretariat conducted an expert group meeting on the Development of a Multimodal Transport Chain in Western Asia, held at Amman from 24 to 27 April 1995.
466. In the field of statistics, ESCWA continued the development and maintenance of databases on energy and industry. A workshop on the implementation of the 1993 System of National Accounts was held at Amman from 12 to 19 December 1994 and another workshop on industrial statistics took place at Damascus from 26 November to 6 December 1994. Training was also provided on the use of statistical computer packages, geographical information systems and the application of the International Comparisons Programme.
467. The fourth thematic subprogramme, Regional development and global changes, encompassed activities dealing with exogenous factors and global changes affecting the region. The major activity under this subprogramme is an ongoing multidisciplinary study on the impact of the single European market on different sectors in the ESCWA region.
468. Issues concerning Palestine, the Middle East peace process and the least developed member States were the focal points for the fifth thematic subprogramme, Special programmes and issues. In its studies, the Agriculture Section covered the rehabilitation of the fisheries sector in the Gaza Strip and of veterinary services in the occupied territories. In addition, a proposed action programme for the restructuring of Palestinian agricultural public institutions was also prepared. The Industry Section undertook workshops on the development of small enterprises in the occupied Palestinian territories.
526. The Agency took immediate steps to develop an effective working relationship with the Palestinian Authority and to meet the Authority's requests for assistance to the fullest extent possible. On 24 June 1994, an exchange of letters took place between the Commissioner-General of UNRWA and the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for the purpose of facilitating the continued provision of UNRWA services to Palestine refugees in areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority. On an ad hoc basis UNRWA provided land and buildings, temporary shelter and emergency humanitarian aid to assist the Authority in establishing its operations in the Jericho area. UNRWA actively pursued coordination of its services with those provided by the Authority, developing effective relations with it in the education, health and relief and social service sectors. The Agency also played an active role in multilateral forums established to support the peace process, such as the multilateral working group on refugees, as part of the United Nations delegation.
527. Within the context of developments in the peace process, UNRWA began the process of relocating its headquarters from Vienna to Gaza by the end of 1995. The relocation should serve to demonstrate the commitment of the United Nations to the peace process, underline its confidence in the Palestinian Authority and contribute to the economic development of the Gaza Strip.
528. UNRWA developed a detailed budget and action plan for the move, including the design of a new headquarters building in Gaza. As at May 1995, the Agency was taking the necessary steps to obtain the $13.5 million in funding needed for the move and to meet the schedule for the move.
529. At my request, UNRWA undertook to administer the payment of the salaries of 9,000 members of the Palestinian Police Force from funds contributed by donors. The technical mechanism underlying the effort was established in a memorandum of understanding signed by UNRWA and the Palestinian Police Force in September 1994. From that date until March 1995 a total of $29.8 million was disbursed in the operation, in which UNRWA worked closely with the office of the United Nations Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories. In its resolution 49/210 of 13 April 1995, the General Assembly requested UNRWA to continue to facilitate the payment of Palestinian Police Force salaries until the end of 1995.
530. In September 1994, UNRWA launched the second phase of its Peace Implementation Programme with the objective of providing continuing infrastructure development and job creation to Palestine refugees throughout the Middle East. Funded projects included construction of schools, health clinics, women's programme centres and sewerage and drainage works, as well as renovation of shelters. Besides improving living conditions for refugees, related projects created an estimated 5,500 jobs over an average four-month period in Gaza alone. The programme met with a positive response on the part of donors, receiving a total of $109 million in funding as at May 1995. The Agency's project for a 232-bed general hospital in Gaza, begun in October 1993, continued during the reporting year. The hospital is due to be completed in early 1996 and recruitment of senior staff is under way.
531. While taking on new roles and responsibilities in response to changing conditions, UNRWA continued to fulfil its basic mission of providing essential health, education and relief and social services to 3.1 million Palestine refugees located in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and the West Bank and Gaza. Some 410,000 elementary and preparatory school pupils were enrolled in the Agency's 643 schools during the academic year 1994/95. The Agency handled nearly 6.5 million patient visits during 1994 through its network of 122 health centres and health points. Over 168,000 of the neediest Palestine refugees received special assistance from the Agency during the year, including food rations, shelter rehabilitation and subsidized medical care. Additional facilities and services provided on an ongoing basis through the Agency's core programmes included vocational training, graduate scholarships, family planning services, special infant care, community rehabilitation centres, women's programme centres and income-generation schemes.
532. UNRWA's regular and emergency cash budget for the biennium 1994-1995 was $570 million. The Agency ended 1994 with an actual funding shortfall of $7 million. Because of the deficit the Agency was forced to carry over the austerity measures imposed in 1993 in response to an earlier deficit, which included a salary freeze, a reduction in administrative costs and cuts in the budgets for additional teacher posts, hospitalization and medical supplies. An informal meeting of UNRWA's major donors and host Governments held at Amman in March 1995 resulted in pledges that helped to reduce the projected deficit for 1995. At the Amman meeting the donors reiterated their commitment to the continued provision of UNRWA services and approved a five-year planning horizon proposed by the Agency.