Switzerland on Monday, March 5, donated 8.3 million Swiss francs ($5.07 million, €5.46 million) to the UN mission responsible for Palestinian refugees during a visit by the agency's head to Bern.
Peter Hansen, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) nevertheless asked for more money, said Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss after meeting the official.
Hansen said the plight of refugees in the Palestinian territories was worse after five months of the intifada, the uprising against Israeli forces, than after the first uprising, which lasted for seven years.
UNRWA will on Tuesday open an office in Geneva to improve communications with other UN agencies operating there and give good access to the European Union countries.
Hansen said the situation in the Occupied Territories was becoming increasingly serious. The level of vaccination in the refugee camps had fallen from nearly 100 percent to 85 percent of the children, he said.
The Palestinian economy had been hit hard by the Israeli blockade of its territory, losing eight to $12 million a day, Hansen added.
UNRWA was set up 50 years to take of the health, educational and social needs of the 3.7 million refugees registered in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. — (AFP, Bern)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )