Amman(womeninjordan)—UNRWA today introduced an Agency-wide smoking ban across all its installations. Starting today, there will be a complete ban on smoking and the use of any tobacco products on all UNRWA premises – indoor and outdoor – except for designated smoking areas.
“The move is in line with World Health Organization and General Assembly recommendations,” said UNRWA Director of Health Dr. Akihiro Seita. “UNRWA has been moving towards being smoke-free since 2006, when smoking was banned inside buildings and UNRWA vehicles, but allowed outside buildings. UNRWA is now extending its current policy to include banning smoking outside buildings too.
“Our decision to go smoke-free will allow us to provide a non-smoking environment to the Palestine refugees who use our services at schools, health centres, community centres and all other UNRWA buildings. There is great support from Palestine refugees because smoking and related diseases are one of the leading causes of death among the refugee communities. There is also a great deal of support from UNRWA staff. I really hope those who still smoke will consider modifying their smoking behavior, or even will stop smoking, as it is a major health risk and affects non-smokers also.”
Staff found violating the directive will be subject to incremental disciplinary measures. The ban will also apply to visitors to UNRWA premises.
Commenting on the smoking ban, Deputy Commissioner-General Sandra Mitchell said, “In addition to the health benefits for individuals, which is the main purpose of the no smoking policy, we will hopefully see a reduction in health-related staff absences. Healthy staff can only be good for UNRWA and our beneficiaries. So my hope is that in all respects, our staff members and the Agency as a whole will be fitter and healthier.”
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UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency’s General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106 million.