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UDHR 71st Celebration, PCHR Holds Graduation Ceremony for 201 Right to Health Trainees

Ref: 59/2019

In celebration of the 71st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, PCHR held a graduation ceremony on Tuesday, 10 December 2019, to honor 201 recipients of training courses on human rights and the right to health. The training courses were organized in partnership with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) in 2019 under a 3-year project that is funded by the European Union (EU), titled “to promote, respect and fulfil the right to the highest attainable standard of health in the Gaza Strip.”

The event was at al-Deira Hotel in Gaza City and witnessed wide participation from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and associations, syndicates and other organizations from the health sector, as well as the graduating trainees, as well as a delegation from the EU’s Representative Office in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) headed by Mr. Tomas Niklasson, the Acting Head of EU Delegation to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Dr. Riyadh Za’noun, Chairman of the PCHR’s Board of Directors and former Palestinian Health Minister, inaugurated the ceremony and welcomed the audience.  He congratulated the graduates and emphasized their significant role in disseminating and promoting the right to health, urging them to apply this culture in their lives to promote these ethics and improve health services in the Gaza Strip in a manner that respects the sacrifices of the Palestinian people.  Dr. Za’noun also praised the EU role and its ongoing and historic support for the health sector in the oPt through the establishment of hospitals, health centers and human development projects.

Dr. Bassam Zaqout, Project Manager at PMRS, said that Palestine is denied all the rights guaranteed in international instruments, particularly the right to health. In light of the overall deterioration of the economic and social rights due to the Israeli-imposed closure, the Gaza population, including patients, are denied freedom of movement.  Dr. Zaqout also addressed the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) attacks against medical personnel and facilities, noting that many of those working for the health sector were victims of IOF attacks while on duty, despite being protected under the international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL).

In his speech, Tomas Niklasson, the Acting Head of EU Delegation to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, clarified that this project aims at disseminating and promoting human rights culture and deepening the right to health concepts among the health sector employees and activists in order to improve the access to the highest attainable standard of health in the Gaza Strip.  He added that the participants would contribute to the improvement of the health sector in the Gaza Strip and stressed that the ongoing Israeli violations of the right to heath, primarily the Israeli closure and restrictions on patients’ movement bear catastrophic consequences on the health of children, women and men.  Mr. Nicholso added that the EU called upon Israel to lift all restrictions on the health sector and facilitate the movement of health sector employees repeatedly, and called upon  the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to provide the necessary medical supplies to the Gaza Strip. Mr. Nicholso said concluded on hopeful notes for a better tomorrow for the Gaza population who have the right to enjoy their rights in accordance with international law, stressing that Palestinians are not alone and that the EU shall stand by their legitimate rights.

Mr. Hamdi Shaqqura, PCHR’s Deputy Director for Programs Affairs, highlighted that this ceremony is organized to graduate trainees under the joint EU-funded project to promote, respect and fulfill the right to the highest attainable standard of health in the Gaza Strip. The project is funded by the EU and continues for 3 years in partnership with PMRS and Physicians for Human Rights–Israel. Shaqqura emphasized that this project aims at improving access to healthcare services, legal counseling and legal assistance for Palestinian patients; to mainstream the international human rights and humanitarian law, particularly the right to health, by building the capacities of national and international NGOs working in the health sector; and to promote improved monitoring, documenting and reporting of violations of the right to health. It should be noted that this project includes 24 training course that target 600 medical personnel and right to health activists in the Gaza Strip.

Dr. Salah al-Rantisi, graduating trainees’ spokesperson, expressed his gratitude for PCHR’s pioneer role in disseminating the culture of human rights, clarifying that “PCHR has accumulated a unique experience and deep knowledge through its long history in disseminating the culture of human rights across the Gaza Strip.”

At the end of the ceremony, PCHR presented 16 shields of honor to participating organizations and unions in appreciation of their contribution to the success of the training courses, and all trainees received certificates.