Mr. Abdalla Abbas has been appointed as UN-HABITAT’s Coordinator for the Special Human Settlements Programme for the Palestinian People.
Mr. Abbas will be in charge of planning and directing UN-HABITAT’s work in the occupied Palestinian territories which seeks to address the difficult housing situation by improving shelter and basic urban services. According to The Report of the Executive Director on the Housing Situation in occupied Palestinian Territories, which was commissioned by the 18th Session of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT in 2001, there is an urgent need to resolve the long term deterioration in human settlements conditions in the occupied territories.
Based on the recommendations on the above report, the 19th Session of UN-HABITAT’s Governing Council held in May 2003, established the Special Human Settlements Programme for the Palestinian People. The passing of the resolution establishing the programme marked an important precedent for UN-HABITAT which until now has never undertaken programmes in the occupied Palestinian Territories. It was the result of successful negotiations among the different parties facilitated by the Secretariat of UN-HABITAT at the request of representatives of the Palestinians and the Israelis. Unlike previous resolutions about the occupied territories, this resolution was passed by consensus and did not need to be put to the vote.
The resolution establishing the Programme also urged the international donor community to support UN-HABITAT in the immediate mobilisation of financial resources for a Technical Cooperation Trust Fund of US$5 million for an initial period of two years. To date contributions to the Trust Fund have been made by the Governments of the United States ($500,000) and Sweden ($275,000). The contribution of UN-HABITAT secretariat in terms of substantive and administrative backstopping, expertise and software is estimated at around $252,000.
Mr. Abbas will be based in the UN-HABITAT office in Geneva. A Chief Technical Advisor in Jerusalem and a HABITAT Programme Manager in Gaza will assist him in implementing the Programme. As part of his coordinating and oversight duties, the Coordinator will maintain close contacts with government officials in the region, officials of donor representatives, and officials of the UN system and Bretton Woods Institutions, specially UNDP, UNRWA, UNSCO and the World Bank.
Mr. Abbas is a Sudanese diplomat with long working experience in the United Nations and comes to the organization from UNCTAD.