The Office of the European Union Representative
(West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA)

TEAM EUROPE stands with Palestine: A consolidated European response of around EUR 373 million to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis

21/05/2020 - 16:32
News stories

TEAM EUROPE partners discussed today during a meeting with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, their combined support to Palestine in overcoming the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. This support addresses the vital short-term emergency and humanitarian needs while mitigating the economic and social impact for Palestinian women and men, households and businesses in the longer term.

TEAM EUROPE's package provides direct assistance to the key actions identified in the Palestinian Authority's COVID-19 Response Plan, namely short-term emergency support[1] and longer term structural support to the health system, fiscal and current expenditure support, as well as assistance to Palestinian businesses, citizens and refugees.

Through TEAM EUROPE's response grants will be increased and advanced for a value of around EUR 270.2 million. Furthermore, financial instruments, dedicated investments, loans and loan guarantees, worth EUR 103.3 million will be put at the disposal of private and financial sector entities. Overall, out of the total package of EUR 373.5 million new additional funds account for EUR 181.2 million (grants EUR 77.9 million, financial instruments EUR 103.3 million).

"TEAM EUROPE is doing all it takes to combat the coronavirus crisis. We want to show solidarity with the Palestinian people. By supporting peace, stability, human rights and sustainable development in Palestine, we uphold our core values. The wellbeing of our partners across the globe matters to every European." said the EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff during the meeting. "By working together, TEAM EUROPE can muster a critical mass of assistance that few others can match. Europe’s strong partnerships around the world are thus even more relevant in tackling this pandemic and its economic and social consequences," he added.

The European response also recognizes the vital contribution that UNRWA delivers to regional stability via its service provision to Palestine refugees. Thus, it will allow UNRWA to direct its budget allocations towards critical health emergencies and socio-economic needs in the context of their COVID-19 related Appeals.

TEAM EUROPE in Palestine is a coalition that includes the EU and its Member States, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB). 

TEAM EUROPE's consolidated response is implemented in full consistency with the important ongoing work of European partners along the five pillars of the European Joint Strategy and the overarching objective of Palestinian state-building. It also includes a component to support the promotion and respect of human rights, particularly human rights of women and girls, due to the rise in domestic household violence during the COVID-19 crisis.

European Development Partners COVID-19 response for Palestine

 

Total EUR 373,462,294

Amounts in EUR

Emergency response

Support to Health sector

Fiscal and current expenditure support

Support to the private sector

Social support

Refugee Support (UNRWA)[2] / Other

BELGIUM

7,000,000[3]

       

4,350,000

DENMARK

441,670

 

1,410,835

 

 

14,070,000

GERMANY

2,563,000

 

2,721,000

29,500,000[4]

 

40,168,000

IRELAND

425,000

 

 

 

1,200,000

6,000,000

SPAIN

85,363

 

1,000,000

22,638

 

 

EU

1,601,108

2,100,000

44,500,000

40,200,000

14,800,000

17,500,000

EIB

 

 

 

Tbc

 

 

EBRD

 

 

 

27,000,000[5]

 

 

FRANCE

1,790,000

70,000

16,000,000

31,000,000[6]

   

ITALY

 

5,245,000

 

1,546,350

852,145

180,549

LITHUANIA

 

 

 

 

 

50,000

MALTA

 

 

 

 

 

50,000

NETHERLANDS

72,000

500,000

       

AUSTRIA

 

750,000

 

 

 

 

POLAND

20,000

 

 

 

 

220,000

SLOVENIA

 

 

 

 

 

50,000

FINLAND

900,000

 

 

 

 

 

SWEDEN

1,900,000

2,100,000

9,000

21,300,000[7]

   

NORWAY

153,105

2,227,531

9,000,000

 

1,350,000

11,700,000

SWITZER-LAND

1,000,000

178,000

 

800,000

2,840,000

1,000,000

Total

17,951,246

13,170,531

74,640,835

151,368,988

21,042,145

95,288,549

 

ANNEX – Aggregated and individual contributions of European Development Partners

 

Summary

 

Team Europe's consolidated response via numerous technical and financial cooperation instruments amounts to an estimated EUR 373.5 million (around 2.7% of GDP). It addresses vital short-term emergency and humanitarian needs, while also mitigating mid to longer term economic and social term impact for businesses and households. It consists of advancing and increasing grants of a value of EUR 270.2 million for 2020, while also frontloading and topping-up of financial instruments for this year worth EUR 103.3 million (e.g. investments, loans, guarantees, etc. are the most) that are put at the disposal of private and financial sector entities.

 

Health/emergency support: TEAM EUROPE's support comprises actions costing close to EUR 31 million and includes providing food packages to vulnerable persons, purchasing medical and personal protective equipment, covering patient accommodation costs, providing COVID-19 testing kits, raising awareness of the importance of sanitation and distancing measures, training health workers, increasing the provision of mental health services, especially in the Gaza Strip, donating a portable thermal imaging fever system at the Rafah crossing, and grant support to assist businesses to reorientate their production line to COVID-19 equipment needs.

 

TEAM EUROPE is providing this emergency support in coordination with the PA and through established actors with a strong track record in health service provision, such as the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, and UN agencies, including UNICEF, WHO, UNRWA and OCHA. In addition, the EU offered Palestine to join the new Initiative on Health Security for the ""prevention and control of challenges posed by communicable diseases, which will be implemented by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

 

Fiscal and current expenditure support: With an estimated financing gap well over USD 1 billion as a consequence of the severe economic fallout linked to measures to combat COVID-19 TEAM EUROPE responded to the PA's request with funds of EUR 74.6 million that comprised advancing of direct financial/budget support with a.) advancing payments scheduled to take place at a later stage, b.) to convert project type support into budget support type payments and to top-up existing direct financial support schemes for the PA's budget. Furthermore, TEAM EUROPE partners supported municipalities to provide urgent services despite a shortfall in revenues.  

 

Private sector support: TEAM EUROPE, assisted by implementing partners such as the EIB, the EBRD and European Development agencies and financing institutions, is mobilising around EUR 151.4 million of grant and loans via various financial instruments (guarantees, interest rate subsidies, mezzanine finance, equity participation etc.) to inject liquidity in the Palestinian financial sector, to offer opportunities in particular to SME's and vulnerable population to cope with their ongoing and upcoming liquidity crisis as well as to allow them to continue to execute vital planned investment undertakings.    

 

In addition, Team Europe will increase its support to Palestinian small and medium-sized businesses so that they can continue in their role as the backbone of the Palestinian economy. Team Europe will also adjust its efforts to help farmers and agri-businesses to stay afloat during the crisis.

 

Social support: Supporting social stabilisation and social protection measures has been recognised by TEAM EUROPE as an important component of the COVID-19 response, amounting to around EUR 21 million. A vital component of social support has been frontloading and topping up of contributions for the PA's Cash Transfer system that helps 77,000 vulnerable families out of around 75% are based in Gaza.

 

Team Europe is also contributing efforts towards ending violence against women and increasing women’s empowerment by supporting women's shelters, focusing on COVID-19 quarantine needs, raising awareness of women's empowerment and wellbeing under quarantine, and informing about and facilitating access to credit opportunities and business coaching for women willing to redefine their small businesses.

 

TEAM EUROPE pays special attention to the situation of refugees and to supporting UNRWA in providing essential services. This is evidenced by advancing and topping up financial contributions to UNRWA's programme budget as well as contributing to cover the UNRWA COVID Appeals. This support put UNRWA in a better position to deliver essential, lifesaving services to Palestine refugees in the areas of health care, sanitation and hygiene and education, complemented by cash and food assistance to alleviate the socio-economic consequences of this crisis for households. 

 

TEAM EUROPE commended the Palestinian Authority for the measures taken so far as well as the comprehensive COVID-19 Response Plan launched and the close coordination with international partners and UN agencies. TEAM EUROPE noted the challenges linked to implementing the COVID-19 Strategic Response plan including the fact that the PA does not control its borders, that the occupied Palestinian territory is economically dependent on Israel, restrictions on movement and access for Palestinians, and the complex challenges in the Gaza Strip under blockade.

 

Individual contributions

 

BELGIUM

Belgium is contributing EUR 4 million to OCHA’s country-based pooled humanitarian fund in 2020. This is an increase of EUR 0.5 million compared to 2019. The fund already allocated over USD 6 million for COVID-19 response of which over USD 2 million went to UNICEF and WHO for equipment procurement, PPE and testing for the PA.

Belgium is also contributing EUR 3 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which supports the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PCRS). The PRCS is mainly working in Gaza on COVID-19 response but has also provided PPE in the West Bank.

Belgium is providing EUR 4.35 million for the Education in Emergencies project at UNRWA, which allows UNRWA students to access distance learning.

Enabel, the Belgian development agency, is working with the Ministry of Local Governance and Local Government Units on a study to assess local response options.

DENMARK

On 5 March 2020, Denmark announced a 50 percent increase in its contribution to the programme budget of UNRWA for 2020, now amounting to more than EUR 14 million of which 85 percent of the funds has already been disbursed. This is contributing to UNRWA being able to sustain and adapt its primary healthcare services, basic education and relief, and social services to Palestine refugees during COVID-19.

Denmark is also supporting municipalities, which can access 20 percent additional financing from the Municipal Development Program III (MDP III) to procure emergency equipment and services to address COVID-19. The Danish contribution to the MDP III is EUR 18.76 million for 2017-2021. Furthermore, Denmark is contributing around EUR 400,000 to the COVID-19 response of NGOs including provision of PPEs to Emergency Medical Services, distribution of food parcels and essential drugs to vulnerable communities, risk communication, and basic prevention measures at community level. Finally, Denmark has reallocated around EUR 43,000 to a CSO’s work on handling and preventing gender-based violence during COVID-19.

GERMANY

Germany is adapting its development cooperation and also providing additional funds to assist Palestine in meeting the current challenges. Germany has provided nearly EUR 2 million for the East Jerusalem hospitals, as well as more than EUR 300,000 for testing kits and laboratory equipment. Municipalities have been supported with disinfectants and protective equipment as well as with EUR 2.5 million of flexible funding via MDLF to meet acute needs. Palestinian NGOs were supported in their efforts to assist their communities.

Furthermore, Germany continued its longstanding support for economic development and employment generation, for example by providing financing for SMEs through funds such as the European Palestine Credit Guarantee Fund (EPCGF) and SANAD. A new product of EPCGF with a volume of EUR 4.5 million is tailored specifically to support SMEs in the crisis. In direct response to the current challenges, Germany has supported an awareness raising campaign for Palestinian workers and a competition for innovative home businesses. Germany also further increased its support for UNRWA, providing more than EUR 30 million for food aid in Gaza as well as frontloading its contribution to the programme budget in order to enable the agency to serve Palestine refugees in these trying times.

IRELAND

Ireland is increasing its financial support to the Palestinian people in order to respond to the increased needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Ireland will provide an additional €1.2 million for the social protection response, supporting the most vulnerable in Palestinian society affected by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. €1 million is being provided in direct financial support to the Palestinian Authority in support of its Cash Transfer Programme, while approximately €200,000 will be provided to the World Bank Multi-Donor Trust Fund to support social protection enhancement.

Ireland has already disbursed €125,000 to Oxfam to support the immediate COVID-19 health response in Gaza through hygiene promotion in communities and the procurement of essential supplies for quarantine centres.

In addition, Ireland has advanced its planned €6 million contribution to UNRWA which will assist the Agency’s continued delivery of essential services at this critical time. Ireland has also advanced its contribution of €300,000 to the oPt Humanitarian Fund, in order to help replenish the fund which has been significantly drawn down to support the COVID-19 response. Other programmed expenditure, including our annual contribution to the Ministry of Education and to Palestinian civil society partners, will be disbursed as planned throughout the year.

SPAIN

Spain has already disbursed funding as part of its immediate COVID 19 response. This support is devoted to emergency aid for vulnerable population and distribution of protection and sanitary kits (EUR 85,363), direct financial support to the PA to contribute to the payment of social allowances through the Cash Transfer Programme (EUR 1 million) and support to the private sector (EUR 22,638).

Further planned interventions for 2020 include: 1) strengthening Palestinian public institutions, including health response and support to public programmes for vulnerable families; 2) economic recovery, support to the private sector and employment; 3) gender equality with special focus in fighting violence against women; and 4) humanitarian aid.

EU

The EU will contribute EUR 9.5 million more to the six East Jerusalem hospitals, in addition to the EU’s annual support of €13 million, to help them to carry out testing and medical care for Palestinians affected by the virus. To support the production of protection equipment in the healthcare sector, the EU will help to stimulate local production by Palestinian companies. The EU will also advance a payment of EUR 40 million to PA civil servants to ensure that the PA has sufficient funds to cover the extra expenses foreseen in its response plan.

Furthermore, the EU will increase its support to Palestinian small and medium-sized businesses by EUR 5.5 million, so that they can continue in their role as the backbone of the Palestinian economy. The EU will also adjust its efforts to help farmers and agri-businesses to stay afloat during the crisis.

The EU will also increase its efforts to address the broader social impact of the crisis by supporting incomes. An additional EUR 5 million will support the most vulnerable, whose numbers are expected to increase in the weeks ahead as a consequence of the economic impact of crisis measures taken.

Out of an early payment of EUR 82 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), up to EUR 11 million will be used in the short-term for the COVID-19 response. Moreover, under the Foreign Policy Instrument, the EU will provide a new allocation of EUR 4 million that will be given to UNRWA for much needed refugee support in both the West Bank and Gaza.

The Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) plays a key role in protecting the public and ensuring compliance with the emergency measures, but needs equipment such as gloves, masks, glasses, sanitizers, and protective clothing to do its job safely. In order to support PCP in their acute and urgent duties to fulfil their security responsibility, EUPOL COPPS diverted resources from projects that were no longer possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic towards purchasing protective equipment. As agreed with the PCP, the donated equipment is worth around EUR 100,000 to meet the PCP’s current protective equipment needs.

EU Humanitarian Aid

 The EU has pledged EUR 6.9 million in humanitarian aid to various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and UN agencies already present on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The funding has enabled them to step up infection prevention and control measures and is helping the most vulnerable segments of the population through emergency healthcare, access to water and sanitation services, cash transfers and tools for distance learning.

A long-standing partner, the World Health Organisation is receiving support to reinforce hygiene promotion, testing and tracing of contacts as well as overall coordination.

The EU-funded West Bank Protection Consortium, which consists of various NGOs, has provided material assistance such as tents and latrines to 30 healthcare facilities across all 11 West Bank governorates for the screening of patients and healthcare workers. Information to raise awareness about the risks of COVID-19 has been distributed to communities as well as hygiene kits and cleaning materials to underserved communities in Area C. Legal aid is being maintained, especially to the most at-risk individuals who need help getting national health insurance, social benefits and other entitlements.

Other partners have adapted their programmes to cater for the needs of out-of-school pupils as well as their parents, school teachers and counsellors. The EU is helping to ensure the protection and safety of students who will sit the official twelfth grade exam by funding hygiene and cleaning kits for 200 testing centres in the West Bank and Gaza strip. EU humanitarian funds have been used to develop pedagogical resources for distance learning and psychosocial support, including videos, an audiobook, infographics, and to support the Ministry of Education with basic ICT equipment. Kits for psychosocial support have also been distributed to quarantine centres.

Emergency cash is being extended to additional people, including the most vulnerable who have been particularly impacted by the lockdown restrictions. Water, sanitation and hygiene measures and promotion have been stepped up in all EU-funded humanitarian programmes.

FRANCE

In the context of the Coronavirus pandemic, France has decided to bring forward the payment to the Palestinian Authority of its annual budgetary aid of EUR16 million for 2020 in light of the financial risks to Palestine’s public finances.

Through the French Development Agency (AFD), France will further provide EUR 3 million to projects supporting the Palestinian response to the health crisis in its different dimensions: (1) a EUR 1.5 million subsidy to the Ministry of Health to strengthen COVID-19 testing capabilities and improve COVID-19 patients care, (2) a EUR 1 million subsidy to support small and medium-sized businesses, via the Ministry of National Economy and (3) assistance to municipalities to maintain public services during the pandemic. In the Gaza Strip, AFD, in collaboration with UNICEF, is also planning to reallocate funds towards primary healthcare centres in order to supply them with essential medicines.

France has also raised an emergency aid of EUR 70,000 for the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) to enable the purchase of personal protective equipment and raise public awareness.

ITALY

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Italy has been in constant dialogue with the Palestinian Authority to ensure that help is provided where it is most needed.

In agreement with the Ministry of Health, Italy redefined some of its existing initiatives in the health sector in order to support the procurement of medical equipment and supplies, as well as awareness-raising materials. One of the hospitals funded by the Italian Cooperation in Dura (Hebron) will be converted into a hub for monitoring/treating COVID-19 patients. A special kit of PPE and hand-sanitizers was provided to Al Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, in addition to continuing Italian contributions to East Jerusalem Hospitals through PEGASE.

Women are amongst the most vulnerable to the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. That is why Italy reallocated some of its existing programmes in order to ensure targeted protection to women under quarantine, particularly women that were victims of gender-based violence, as well as to strengthen women’s access to credit and training.

Again aiming to tackle the socio-economic consequences of this crisis, Italy reallocated EUR 4 million in order to establish a fund supporting Palestinian small enterprises experiencing difficulties due to the pandemic

CSOs operating through Italian funds have also redefined part of their activities, notably in order to procure medical equipment and awareness-raising materials, support WASH initiatives and provide remote services for psychosocial support. The actions of Italian CSOs have proven particularly effective in Gaza, where, thanks to their support, a school in Rafah is currently being converted into a quarantine center for people with disabilities.

NETHERLANDS

Learning from the Ebola crisis support to ongoing medical treatment (non-COVID-19 related) is crucial to support health. As such, in response to COVID-19, the Netherlands has contributed EUR 500,000 for the procurement of cancer medicines by the Augusta Victoria Hospital.

Furthermore, the Netherlands has reallocated USD 78,000 of an existing food security project for food parcels, sterilization packages and home gardens interventions, providing at least 300,000 vegetable seedlings to support home gardens in various regions and clusters in rural areas, cities and camps (through local CSOs).

Finally, the Netherlands has contributed EUR 100 million in un-earmarked funds to humanitarian and development organisations for the worldwide COVID-19 response, of which EUR 5 million went to the ICRC. The ICRC in Palestine has contributed to buying vital intensive care equipment for Gaza, among many other important activities.

AUSTRIA

Austria has committed EUR 750,000 in support of the first phase of the national COVID-19 response plan through contributions to WHO and PWA, as well as the PMO. Furthermore, Austria is supporting local CSOs in their efforts to ensure that specific, gender-related COVID-19 socioeconomic impacts are being addressed through awareness-raising activities, professional gender-based-violence counselling and humanitarian assistance for vulnerable families, in particular female-headed households.

SWEDEN

Through its core funding of approximately USD 1.4 million for 2020 to the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), Sweden facilitates the provision of primary healthcare services, COVID-19 awareness campaigns, training of health workers, referral and distribution of medical and hygienic supplies for marginalised communities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

Sweden, Switzerland and Norway, through their joint support to the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme of approximately USD 1.7 million for 2020, facilitate the provision of mental health services, psychological first aid services , COVID-19 awareness raising campaigns, health worker training and counselling (for people in quarantine), and free telephone counselling for COVID-19 patients, as well as therapeutic services.  The programme also conducts media coverage activities to raise awareness about mental impact of COVID-19.

UNRWA is one of Sweden’s key partners and with a regular annual contribution of approximately USD 45 million it provides UNRWA with the possibility to address some of the most pressing needs of Palestinian refugees, much of it being related to COVID-19.

Sweden has so far contributed USD 2.1 million to the 2020 Humanitarian Country Based Pooled Fund, which has been partially used for COVID-19.

NORWAY

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Norway has progressively responded to support the short-term emergency and humanitarian responses with a special focus on the health sector. It has also provided an advance payment to the PA budget (USD 9.75 million) as well as to UNRWA (USD 11.7 million) to finance their operational and current expenditures. It has cooperated with its partners to support the social protection measures and social stabilization while emphasising women’s empowerment and efforts towards ending violence against women. 

Norway has funded medical equipment (autoclaves and ventilators) and supplies to hospitals in East Jerusalem and in the Gaza Strip for a total USD 1.9 million. It has also provided for immediate support of USD 1.2 million to personnel in the health and municipal sectors in the Gaza Strip. A package of enhancing the medical waste treatment system that included the provision of three medical waste treatment vehicles and establishing a medical waste treatment facility operated by the Joint Service Council in Gaza and the North Governorate was funded for a total of USD 480,000.

Norway supported the emergency response plan of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and supported the Ministry of Health for the development of the national surveillance and tracking system for COVID-19. Social support (USD 232,000) was extended to marginalised communities and women in Palestine with a focus on the Jordan valley. A media package including a hotline for the provision of support to victims of gender-based violence and for advocating for reproductive health was supported.

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland has doubled its annual contribution to the country-based Humanitarian Fund for oPt from USD 1 to 2 million and provided an additional USD 1 million to fund the UN Inter-Agency Response Plan for COVID-19. Switzerland has also responded to the UNRWA Emergency Appeal related to COVID-19 with USD 1 million. In addition, with development funding, Switzerland will increase new funding:

  • For decent job creation in Gaza with UNDP, in particular in key sectors such as Health and Food production;
  • For small farmers in the West Bank and Gaza who have been hit by the COVID crisis and the storms in March with Oxfam;
  • For Local Government Units and Villages Councils in Area C through MDLF in order to support the prevention and preparation for a possible pandemic.

In addition, all the cooperation partners of Switzerland have been allowed and encouraged to reorient their plans and budgets in order to face the COVID-19 emergency.

 

 

[1] This includes the UN coordinated Inter-Agency COVID-19 Response Plan. TEAM EUROPE is, collectively, also a key donor to the multilateral response system as such, providing i.a. a third of the voluntary contributions to the UN budget. This translates into flexibility and action of UN agencies in Palestine. 

[2] Some advances or new additional funds have been transmitted to UNRWA's programme budget that may finance services beyond the health/economic/social COVID response. 

[3] Unearmarked emergency response not limited to COVID19. 

[4] Out of which est. EUR 25 million of investments (tbc), by KfW (SANAD), leveraged by around EUR 5 million EU grant.

[5] Est. EUR 27 million of financial instruments (tbc), by EBRD (SEMED), leveraged by a EUR 3 million EU grant.

[6] Est. EUR 30 million of financial instruments (tbc), by AFD (concrete programme to be confirmed) leveraged by an EUR 10 million EU grant)

[7] Est. USD 23 million of financial instruments (grant + guarantees), implemented via the Middle East Investment Initiative.

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