Turkish Aid to Palestinian Refugees
The U.S. announced that it will no longer contribute funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Historically the U.S. has been the highest donor to UNRWA, meaning other nations will now have to step up their efforts to provide Palestinians with the necessary support. Despite rhetoric from the U.S., other countries continue to provide support for Palestinians and UNRWA. Not only will countries continue to support UNRWA, but they will also continue to work directly with Palestine to ensure Palestinians are assisted in areas of need, including education, housing, food, and medical assistance.
Turkey is an avid contributor to UNRWA and is the current chair of the Advisory Commission. In collaboration with other countries, Turkish support will continue for the U.N. agency. Turkey has recently increased its financial support to UNRWA, placing high importance on supporting Palestinians. It provided an additional 10 million U.S. dollars (USD) to UNRWA this year. However, Turkey does not support Palestinians only through the UNRWA. Through its various humanitarian aid organizations, Turkey has been able to directly assist Palestinians.
Turkey contributed over 1 billion USD of humanitarian aid to Palestine in 2017. Through organizations such as UNRWA, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), and the Turkish Red Crescent, Turkey has provided monetary donations and has worked on development projects for the Palestinian cause. TIKA has contributed to development projects across the Palestinian communities, including hospitals, agricultural development, and housing development. TIKA recently completed a new hospital that is expected to be the largest in Palestine, with 180 beds. The organization will also help by providing ambulances, medical equipment, and training for staff. The hospital cost 62 million USD and is expected to begin assisting patients later this year. The new hospital is the not the first hospital to be built by TIKA; a hospital was built in Tubas city and has been assisting patients for five years already.
Additionally, TIKA is assisting with housing developments. In 2017, TIKA completed a housing community that provided 320 apartments to Palestinian families who lost their homes due to violence in 2014. In addition to the recent housing complexes, TIKA has begun work on building an all-female dormitory. The dormitory is part of Jerusalem University, and is expected to be completed in two years. It will have 400 beds, supporting women who wish to study at the university. The dormitory is one measure TIKA has taken to assist Palestinians with education. The organization has also worked to build schools throughout Palestinian communities, with hopes of educating more children. Turkey launched a campaign to have a school in every Palestinian city. In support of the campaign, TIKA has built six schools and assisted in furnishing and updating 14 schools.
Furthermore, the Turkish Red Crescent has contributed humanitarian aid to Palestinians. The organization has supported communities by providing medical supplies to local hospitals. Earlier this year it was able to provide 100,000 USD of medical supplies to hospitals in one shipment. Aid from the Red Crescent is contingent on whether or not Israeli authorities and international institutions grant permission for the organization to transfer supplies from Turkey to the Palestinian communities. However, while this may slow the process down, the organization still works to bring supplies to the communities. Not only does the Turkish Red Crescent provide medical supplies to hospitals, but it provides food assistance to families and regions in need. During Ramadan this year, the Turkish Red Crescent helped to provide food to Palestinian families as part of the organization’s efforts to provide 10 million people with aid during Ramadan.
Turkey has provided aid for Palestinians through its commitments to UNRWA, as well as through numerous aid organizations. The country is devoted to helping those in need in Palestine. Turkey provides aid and assistance through donations, but more importantly, helps with developing long-lasting programs to help build up the community. Through efforts to build schools, hospitals, and develop agricultural programs, Turkey has assisted in strengthening the Palestinian community’s resilience and ability to sustain themselves.