The British Deputy Consul, Benjamin Saoul, today visited Nablus city accompanied by colleagues from the International Department for Development (DFID), a UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) representative,and others focusing on bilateral links. He met with the Governor Major General Jibreen al- Bakri, where he discussed the political and economic developments on the ground and daily life issues for Palestinians living in the Governorate of Nablus. He also met with Mayor Mr Ghassan Shakaa and explored opportunities to further strengthen British- Palestinian relations.
Mr Saoul also toured Balata Refugee camp and visited one of UNRWA’s offices there. UNWRA briefed him on living conditions in the camp, and the work and services they provide to support Palestinian refugees. Many of these services were made possible through the UK’s commitment to provide £106.5m to UNRWA between 2011-2015 to support health, education and relief services for refugees. This annual and predictable contribution to UNRWA will provide yearly education for over 36,000 Palestinian refugees, at least four ante-natal care visits for over 6000 pregnant women, and cash transfers to over 20,000 poor Palestinian households.
Mr Saoul later visited a UK- funded project in Yanoun, one of the smallest villages south west of Nablus. Last year, the British Consulate General in Jerusalem funded a computer centre to be used as a community resource for the people and children of Yanoun. The project aimed to enhance the daily life of the village where development is hindered in some parts because of its location in Area C. Previously, students in Yanoun were disadvantaged at school compared to other students from nearby villages due to lack of IT resources. Now, the computer centre serves as a vibrant educational resource, IT centre, and a meeting place where young people can convene for recreational and cultural purposes.
At the end of his visit, Benjamin Saoul said:
“I was pleased to meet once again with both the Governor and the Mayor of Nablus, two dedicated public servants who are doing so much for the security and prosperity of the city of Nablus. Visiting Belata camp was a reminder of the tough living conditions facing Palestinian refugees, and I am proud that Britain is playing a leading role to support them through UNWRA.
“I was deeply moved by my visit to Yanoun village. Encircled by settlements, the villagers suffer routine violence and intimidation from the settlers, as well as facing economic restrictions as a result of being located in Area C. Despite this, the community is resilient, brave and determined. I told them that Britain opposed all settlements, which are illegal, and that we will do all we can to achieve the creation of a Palestinian state.