The Minister of Labor, Chairman of the Management Board of the Palestinian Fund for Employment, Dr. Maamoun Abu Shahla, met yesterday with Dr. Bandar Mohammed Hajjar, Chairman of the Islamic Development Bank Group, Jeddah, at the Bank's headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
During the meeting, Minister Abu Shahla and Dr. Hajjar discussed the latest developments related to the implementation of the Islamic Development Bank program for the employment of youth graduates in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in cooperation with the Palestinian Fund for Employment and Social Protection for Workers as well as ways to enhance the cooperation with Bank to employ the youth in Palestine.
Abu Shahla stressed that his ministry is currently prioritizing supporting and enhancing the capacities of unemployed Palestinian youth of both sexes, especially in the Gaza Strip, where neutral reports indicate that the unemployment rate in the besieged strip has reached an unprecedented level of about 60%.
Abu Shahla praised the contribution of the Al-Aqsa Fund, managed by the Bank, for 1.8 million US Dollars, to establish and processing a vocational training center in the northern West Bank city of Salfit to train and qualify youth and provide skills to meet the needs of the labor market in Palestine.
The Minister of Labor stressed the urgent need for further support and assistance of the Bank to the Palestinian Ministry of Labor and the Employment Fund, especially in their efforts to train and build the capacity of the unemployed, and to help empower Palestinian youth to establish and employ small and micro enterprises.
Abu Shahla praised the great success achieved by the Bank and the Al Aqsa Fund in implementing the economic empowerment program for Palestinian productive families, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Palestine, which began in Palestine in early 2007 and benefited from the implementation of this program. Till its date, more than 23,000 Palestinian families while the program contributed to the improvement of the standard of living of thousands of Palestinian families, especially low-income families. The cost of this pilot program till its date has reached more than 100 million US dollars
For his part, the Chairman of the Islamic Development Bank Group stressed the base of the great importance and priority that Palestine enjoys in the conscience and heart of every Arab and Muslim. He also stressed the Bank's keenness to support the development priorities in Palestine, including training and building youth capacities for the establishment and employment of micro and small projects. As he confirmed the full support of the Bank for the efforts of economic and social development in Palestine, in order to strengthen the steadfastness of the brotherly Palestinian people over its land.
The Palestinian Minister of Labor was accompanied by Ambassador Mahmoud Yahya Al-Asadi, the accredited Consul General of the State of Palestine in the city of Jeddah.
It is worth mentioning that the State of Palestine joined the membership of the Islamic Development Bank in 1977. The Bank administers the Al-Aqsa Fund, commissioned by the League of Arab States, based on the recommendations of the Arab Emergency Summit that was held in Cairo in October 2000. Which approved the establishment with a Capital of 1 billion US dollars fund to support reconstruction the affected areas by the occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Bank also manages the Gulf Cooperation Council countries Program for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, with a capital of 1.1 billion US dollars In March 2009, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries entrusted the Bank with the implementation of the program in Palestine in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program and international financial institutions.