Meryame Kitir, Minister of Development Cooperation and Major Cities Policy, launched the new bilateral cooperation programme together with Palestinian Prime Minister Shtayyeh on Thursday 12 May. For the occasion, Minister Kitir was officially received in Ramallah. For the next five years, the Minister will focus on two priorities: empowering the young people and greening the occupied Palestinian territory. "With this new cooperation programme, we are investing in young people so that they can build their own future. Every child deserves to grow up in a green, healthy environment and should have every opportunity to advance through education and employment."
Strengthening young people
Minister Kitir resolutely opts for strengthening the youth in the new bilateral cooperation programme 2022-2026. Youth unemployment in the occupied Palestinian territory is sky-high. No less than 40% of young people between 18 and 29 are unemployed, while 70% of the Palestinian population is younger than 30. Minister Kitir : “These young people need perspective, so that they can take their lives into their own hands. That is why we invest in education, employment and young entrepreneurship. Good education and a job are the basis for making something of life."
Through the Belgian implementation agency Enabel, Minister Kitir will therefore focus on the construction and renovation of schools. Two new schools will be built in Gaza, one in East Jerusalem and 5 existing schools will be expanded or renovated. She will also invest in vocational training and education programmes that result in a job. "In order to strengthen young people I want to invest in quality education and good schools, but I also want to make sure that they find a job afterwards. Vocational training gives young people the technical skills they need to enter the labour market. Work is always the best guarantee for young people to get ahead."
In total, 2300 young Palestinians will have access to a vocational training programme and at least 1800 of them will obtain a job in the end. In addition to education and employment, Minister Kitir also supports young entrepreneurship projects in the occupied Palestinian territory. "Those offer many young women the opportunity to start their own business and make their own choices for the future." The cooperation programme stipulates that half of the young people reached must be women.
Healthy living environment through greening
The second pillar Minister Kitir focuses on a healthy living environment through greening. In the occupied Palestinian territory, the living environment suffers greatly from waste pollution and contamination. As a result, children often live in unhealthy conditions. Minister Kitir: "By investing in recycling and waste management, children can grow up in a healthy environment. Children need green spaces to play, not concrete camps. These projects also create green jobs and give Palestinian youth the opportunity to help improve their entire environment."
The emphasis on greening is also continued in the construction of schools, where the environment and climate also are key targets. Schools that are built ecologically and sustainably, offer improved quality to the young people that attend them and a healthier living environment to grow up in.
Minister Kitir points out that the Belgian development agency Enabel will implement the projects of the new cooperation programme in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. For the first time, there is also a fully-fledged programme for Gaza, for the situation there has rapidly deteriorated over the last years. Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with a youth unemployment rate of more than 60%. Hence, Minister Kitir wants to empower young people and develop waste management projects that will turn rubbish dumps into green spaces in Gaza, so that life there becomes more livable. Minister Kitir: "No matter how dire the situation is, life should never be hopeless. Young people should always be able to build the future. That is why I choose for the strengthening of young people and young women in Gaza through vocational training and young entrepreneurship. If young people move forward, Palestine has a future."
Press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation