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Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
14 October 2004
Palestine Rehabilitation Forum Concludes, Announces Initiatives for Development
Beirut, 14 October 2004 (United Nations Information Services)--
The “Arab International Forum on Rehabilitation and Development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Towards an Independent State” launched several initiatives today, aimed at enhancing assistance to the economic and social development of the Palestinian territories.
The initiatives, which were announced in a press conference at the UN House in Beirut, included: the launching of a project to replant 1 million trees in the Palestinian territories by the “Association for Agricultural Relief in Palestine” and “Al-Arabiah for Nature Protection”, in cooperation with ESCWA; the establishment of a network of regional NGOs to strengthen civil society in Palestine; the creation of a start up fund aimed at boosting small business for women; and an ESCWA initiative to train Palestinian and Arab journalists.
The press conference followed a closing ceremony that concluded the Forum. In her closing remarks to the participants, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) Mervat Tallawy said the Forum had achieved its aim – to provide a coordinated Palestinian vision for development – despite criticisms that planning for development at a time of war and occupation was futile.
“The voice of the people will be heard, and it will be a stronger voice,” she said. She added: “It is high time to take our courage and make our voices heard regardless of what governments are doing, not just for the Palestinian people but for all of humankind.”
At the closing session, Hassan Charif, Forum Coordinator and Consultant at ESCWA, announced the recommendations based on conclusions reached by the participants during the workshops held throughout the week. Many of them focused on the need to support the basic human rights of Palestinians, such as the rights to education, freedom from occupation and an independent economy. The recommendations also stressed the need for promoting the private, public and governmental sectors of Arab countries and the international world in their cooperation with the Palestinian people, in order to better integrate the Palestinian economy into the global arena.
The closing ceremony followed a morning of workshops dealing with civil society partnership, agricultural and agro-business partnerships, the twinning of municipalities and education. Other workshops this week focused on the potential for private sector partnerships, the role of women in socio-economic development and the role of the Palestinian Diapsora. In addition, Wednesday evening featured a roundtable discussion on the role of the media in socio-economic development, where several prominent journalists and media specialists discussed the ways in which Palestinian media and media about Palestine could work to correct distortions in the public image and play a more active part in the economic and social development of the occupied Palestinian territory.
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