On Saturday 26 March 2011, the European Union (EU) will be making this year's first contribution to the Palestinian Authority's quarterly payment of social allowances to poor and vulnerable Palestinian households, across the West Bank and Gaza. This contribution, channelled through the PEGASE mechanism, amounts to €9.4 million (ILS 47,181,030 million) and is funded by the Government of Italy (€7 million), the Swiss Confederation (CHF 2.5 million) and the Government of Austria (€1 million).
Beneficiaries of the programme are identified in cooperation with the Ministries of Finance and Social Affairs, through the latter's national Cash Transfer Programme, designed to provide basic safety net to the poorest and most vulnerable Palestinian citizens. The assistance takes the form of a cash allowance.
The €9.4 million contribution, through PEGASE, will directly benefit 57,912 eligible Palestinian families — out of which 26,445 live in Gaza.
The Minister of Social Affairs said:
"This is the 4th payment under the reformed cash transfer programme, which started in June 2010. This payment will reach a total of over 77,000 poor families in the West Bank and Gaza – of which 12,000 families are new and will receive assistance for the first time. The Ministry is working diligently to review and assess the functioning of the cash transfer programme, taking into account input from social workers, beneficiaries and public opinion. We are also working to upgrade the implementing modalities of the programme, improve procedures and strengthen monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure that the assistance is provided efficiently and can effectively tackle poverty among needy Palestinian families.
This is in addition to the Ministry's extensive activities and interventions in the field of social protection. This payment is taking place in full cooperation between the major funders of the national cash transfers programme, namely the European Union, the Palestinian National Authority and the World Bank – whom we thank."
The European Union Representative, Mr. Christian Berger said:
"This year's first contribution, through PEGASE, to the Ministry of Social Affairs' cash assistance was made possible through the generous contributions of the Governments of Italy, Switzerland and Austria. We have seen this programme advance in a short period of time and we remain committed to fully and effectively support the Ministry of Social Affairs to upgrade and develop national social safety nets in order to ensure that the most vulnerable populations are protected. This is yet another testimony to the firm political and financial commitment that the EU places in the Palestinian Authority's plan to build the institutions of the future, independent Palestinian State."
Payments are made over-the-counter at 47 branches of Bank of Palestine and Cairo Amman Bank. Beneficiaries may collect their allowances from 26 March to 21 April 2011, at the bank branch indicated by their social worker.
Most of the EU assistance to the Palestinian Authority is channelled through PEGASE, the financial mechanism launched in 2008 to support the three-year Reform and Development Plan presented in 2007. As well as helping to meet a substantial proportion of its running costs, European funds support major reform and development programmes in key ministries, to help prepare the PA for statehood in line with the plan put forward by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in August 2009. Since February 2008, €1.03 billion have been disbursed through the PEGASE Direct Financial Support programmes. In addition, the EU has provided assistance to the Palestinian people through UNRWA and a wide range of cooperation projects.
The Office of the European Union Representative
Antonia Zafeiri, Tel: +972 (0) 2 5415 859, Mobile +972 (0) 548 024 915
Shadi Othman,Tel: +972 (0) 2 541 5888 ext 867, Mobile: +972 (0) 599 673 958
Ministry of Social Affairs
Khaled Al Barghouti,
Deputy General Director to Combat Poverty,