The governments of India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA), through UNDP inaugurate the first project in the Middle East

19 Nov 2011

Ramallah – Foreign Ministers of India, Brazil and South Africa inaugurated today a multipurpose new sports centre implemented through UNDP’s Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People. This is the first IBSA project in the Middle East and is a pioneering initiative to enhance cooperation amongst developing countries in the fight against hunger and poverty.

Recognizing the true partnership between the Municipality, IBSA and UNDP, the Mayor of Ramallah, Janet Michael, highlighted the importance of this  centre in accommodating the local needs and enriching the sports sector in Ramallah.

The one million Dollar project consists of the construction of a 2450 square meter multipurpose sports hall comprising an indoor basketball, volleyball, indoor football, tennis, and handball court, according to international standards. In addition, the facility will be utilized for gymnastics as well as other sporting activities.

H.E. E. Ahamed, Minister of State of India reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the Palestinian people and their nation building efforts. He added that India’s support is not only limited to developing institutions and capacities and that India has a long history of support as the first non Arab country to recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organization as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

In his speech, the Undersecretary-General for Africa and the Middle East, H.E. Ambassador Paulo Cordeiro de Andrade Pinto said that the three countries are proud of having chosen the occupied Palestinian territory as the first venue for their tripartite and South-South cooperation. “We hope that it will contribute to the training of Palestinian players and athletes with a view to compete in the 2014 World Cup and the Olympic Games in 2016, both of which Brazil is happy to host” he added.

The location of the centre will allow children, youth and families across the economic spectrum to easily access and utilize the facility in advancement of their athletic skills as well as their physical well being. The new facility will seat over 400 spectators for sporting events and competitions.

H.E. Marius Fransman, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation in South Africa expressed his belief that with development comes peace. “We as IBSA insisted on completing this project with focus on youth empowerment and sports for a better life for the Palestinian community”. He called for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza and an end to the occupation. “South Africa will never feel completely free unless we have the freedom of the Palestinian society” he added.  

H.E. Hussein Al Araj, Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, conveyed the President’s appreciation to the support provided by the three countries to the Palestinian people. He also emphasized that the Palestinian leaderships puts special focus on the youth sector, building its capacities and providing the necessary services for its growth and empowerment.

“Today we inaugurate another piece of the puzzle of what UNDP calls development for freedom. We hope that this will give young Palestinians the opportunity to train and compete, firstly among themselves and then with their international peers, just like sportsmen and women all over the world”, said Yasmine Sherif, UNDP Deputy Special Representative. “We will work together with IBSA and other partners with the Palestinian people to lead us in their request for development for freedom and to win the human race”.

It is worth noting that the project also provided the supporting infrastructure for the pilot Palestinian Youth Sports League (PYSL), which will give children and youth between the ages of 5 and 18 an organized approach to focus their energies on developing their athletic and teamwork skills.

The inauguration ceremony was held on 19 November 2011 and attended by H.E. Hussein Al Araj, Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, H.E. E. Ahamed, Minister of State of India, H.E. Bishwadip Dey, Representative of India, H.E. Ambassador Paulo Cordeiro de Andrade Pinto, Undersecretary-General for Africa and the Middle East, H.E. Ligia Maria Scherer, Representative of Brazil, H.E. Marius Fransman, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation in South Africa, H.E. Mlungisi Makalima, Representative of South Africa, Ms. Janet Michael, Mayor of Ramallah, and Ms. Yasmine Sherif, UNDP Deputy Special Representative .

The ceremony ended with an indoor girls football game between the Palestinian National Team and the Youth sports league (PYSL).

Contact Information

Dania Darwish, Communication Specialist, Tel: +972-2-6268229 – E-mail: dania.darwish@undp.org