Summary of the PCPM Foundation’s activities in 2021
In 2021, the PCPM Foundation implemented humanitarian and development aid projects in eight countries in Africa and the Middle East. In five of them (Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Kenya and Ethiopia), PCPM operates through its representative offices registered in these countries based on local legislation. In 2021, the Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM also provided assistance in Uganda and Malawi, and the PCPM Foundation continues its humanitarian aid project in South Sudan.
Since 2012, PCPM has been implementing humanitarian and development aid projects in Lebanon, where we employ over 40 employees and run two offices: in Qubayat in northern Lebanon and Beirut. In 2012-21, the PCPM mission in Lebanon implemented over 40 aid projects worth over PLN 95 million (USD 24 million), financed in 55% by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland and other Polish institutions, 30% by various UN agencies and in 12% by the EU.
In northern Lebanon, we have been implementing a project to support local authorities in municipalities hosting a significant number of Syrian refugees since 2018. This project, financed by the European Union Fund for the Middle East – Madad, focuses on spatial development issues, due to the large number of new buildings constructed to accommodate tens of thousands of refugees, improvement of municipal services such as water supply, sewage and transport for the population, whose number has doubled with the inflow of refugees as well as job creation. As part of these activities, we are rebuilding the main road in the northern Libyan province of Akkar, providing power from solar panels for sewage treatment plants and creating new jobs, including in agri-food processing. The value of the project financed by the EU is almost PLN 14 million (USD 3.5 million) in 2018-22.
Thanks to the feasibility studies carried out with EU funding, we managed to obtain funds from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Polska Pomoc – Polish Aid) for the expansion of the sewage network in the Christian city of Qubayat in northern Lebanon (PLN 3.6 million, USD 0.9 million in 2021-23). It is a continuation of the activities initiated in 2018-19 and currently includes the connection of the last district of the city to the sewage system. Before the economic crisis hit in 2019, Lebanon treated only 8% of its wastewater; the rest flowed into the Mediterranean Sea. Our activities are aimed at creating a sewage-free zone in northern Lebanon, which would allow, among others, the development of biological agriculture and the change in the power supply of sewage treatment plants to solar cells. The economic crisis in Lebanon also manifests itself in the fact that electricity in the network is available only for 2-3 hours a day, and the use of generators is too expensive.
Basing wastewater treatment plants on cheap renewable sources would be an example for other cities in Lebanon and an incentive to restart wastewater treatment plants, currently shut down due to a lack of electricity from the grid.
Thanks to funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland (Polska Pomoc, Polish Aid), PCPM is gradually delivering solar lanterns to other villages in northern Lebanon. We pay special attention to lighting the vicinity of schools, as the children of Syrian refugees attend the second shift and are often victims of road accidents. In 2021, in addition to the town in northern Lebanon, solar lanterns were delivered to the town of At-Tiri, located in the area of responsibility (AOR) of the (PMC UNIFIL) in South Lebanon. We are pleased with the possibility of project cooperation with the Polish Military Contingent UNIFIL, hoping that such development projects contribute to the success of the mission and greater security of Polish soldiers. After the PCPM project, the mayor of Bint Jbeil, the largest Shi’ite city in the region of the Polish contingent, submitted a request for assistance in the installation of a large number of solar lanterns to the PMC UNIFIL.
Humanitarian aid delivered by PCPM in Lebanon is coordinated closely with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Humanitarian Coordination Office (OCHA) in Lebanon. PCPM has been participating in humanitarian aid strategies for Lebanon for many years, prepared by the United Nations for Syrian refugees (coordinated by UNHCR) and for the local population (coordinated by OCHA). PCPM participates in a dozen working groups coordinated by the UN, including coordinating assistance in securing a shelter for Syrian refugees (Shelter Working Group). PCPM coordinates with UNHCR assistance for refugees also at the level of individual families of Syrian refugees thanks to the RAIS computer system (Refugee Assistance Information System).
The flagship PCPM program in Lebanon is to provide shelter for refugees by supporting rental flats (Cash for Rent). 75% of the 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon do not live in camps and they need help to have any kind of shelter. Thanks to the funds of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland (Polska Pomoc, Polish Aid), over 1,400 families of Syrian refugees and the poorest Lebanese families (approx. 6,500 people) receive support in paying for renting a flat for the winter of 2021-22. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports these activities with the amount of PLN 3.2 million (USD 0,8 million). PCPM works closely with other humanitarian organizations in Lebanon, from which we receive reports of people in need of help, and to which we refer refugees in need, for example, of legal assistance.
Thanks to UN (Lebanon Humanitarian Fund) funds in the amount of PLN 3.5 million (USD 0.9 million) and co-financing from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PCPM provides food aid to 680 of the poorest Lebanese families and lonely elderly people, who are supported for 6 months at the turn of 2021-22. This project is coordinated with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), which manages food aid for Syrian refugees and indigenous people in Lebanon. Monitoring, carried out according to the indications of the United Nations, shows that for 86% of families, it resulted in an increase in the level of food consumption above the minimum level (borderline food consumption).
In 2020-21, PCPM also implemented a second project financed by the UN Lebanon Humanitarian Fund and co-financed by the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland and the National Institute of Freedom with a total value of PLN 5.8 million (USD 1.5 million), thanks to which PCPM adapted to winter conditions tents for over 27 thousand Syrian refugees living in 125 camps in the Arsal mountain region of Lebanon, as well as improved living conditions in 60 other tent camps housing 5,400 Syrian refugees.
Since 2014, PCPM has been running a health center for refugees and the Lebanese population in the town of Bire in northern Lebanon, which in 2015-20 was financed by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Polska Pomoc, Polish Aid). Its services are used by approx. 19 thousand patients a day. The health center supported by PCPM also runs a mobile clinic that commutes and provides medical assistance in 20 camps for Syrian refugees.
At present, its activity is financed from PCPM’s own funds.
In response to the explosion of ammonium nitrate composition in the port of Beirut (August 4, 2020), PCPM implemented in 2020-21 a project financed by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) through UN-Habitat worth PLN 3.2 million (USD 0.8 million). As with Syrian refugees in northern Lebanon, 816 victim families received cash for rent support (Cash for Rent) in less degraded neighborhoods in Beirut. In 2021, PCPM also completed the UN-Habitat project, financed by the Polish Aid (Polska Pomoc) grant in 2018, thanks to which a fire brigade unit in the Christian district of Burj Hammoud was renovated, a fire engine was purchased, the electrical network was revitalized and solar panels were installed in public buildings. Since 2016, we have also been supporting the fire brigade in northern Lebanon, which has to deal with massive forest fires every year.
The economic crisis in Lebanon causes increased migration to Cyprus, only 150 km away. At the request of the Cypriot authorities and thanks to the funding of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland, PCPM delivered 80 modular houses to a migrant camp in Limnes in mid-2021. They were set up by the end of September and help to increase the capacity to receive migrants on the island.
In northern Iraq, PCPM is implementing a project to support local authorities in municipalities hosting a significant number of Syrian refugees and internal refugees, financed by the European Union Fund for the Middle East – Madad in the amount of PLN 12 million (USD 3 million) for 2018-22. It has the same thematic scope as the project implemented in Lebanon – it focuses on spatial development, improving the accessibility and quality of services for the population, and creating jobs. PCPM activities cover counties located both in Iraqi Kurdistan and in the federal part of Iraq. Main activities are centered in one of the largest Yazidi-inhabited centers – Sheikhan County in Dohuk Province – and Christian cities north of Mosul, including Tell Kaif, Teleskuf (visited in June 2021 by Pope Francis) and Batnaya.
Thanks to the EU funds, we support local governments, including investments in the field of water infrastructure, developing the ability to effectively manage territorial units and spatial planning and stimulating local economic development (e.g. by attracting external investments, stimulating small business or creating jobs), thanks to which we also have an excellent understanding of the motives driving the Iraqi population to migrate, inter alia, through Belarus. In August 2021, we provided the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a contact list to the main media in Iraq, prepared by the PCPM offices in Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan and in Baghdad, and we declared our readiness to implement projects in Iraq and Lebanon referring to the reasons of migration, including job creation. The effects of our activities are highly valued and appreciated by local partners who are ready to continue cooperation. Unfortunately, the PCPM mission in Iraq is threatened with closure unless we manage to obtain other funds for activities in this country, apart from the EU project ending in December 2022.
The PCPM Foundation has been operating in the West Bank since 2010. In 2010-2019, the Foundation’s activities focused mainly on supporting agriculture, developing entrepreneurship, cooperatives and creating new sources of income. Since 2019, thanks to the financing of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Polska Pomoc, Polish Aid), PCPM supports the professionalisation of emergency medical services, as well as the training of instructors in the field of rescue medicine. In the years 2021-2023, we continue cooperation with the Ministry of Health in the field of improving the qualifications of medical staff.
As part of the proprietary training program, financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland (Polska Pomoc, Polish Aid), we will educate new instructors in the field of training in ultrasound diagnostics and advanced medical procedures in traumatic conditions and sudden cardiac arrest. At the same time, we support a system of mobile clinics operating in Area C of the West Bank (Palestinian territories controlled by Israel), where residents do not have constant and direct access to medical care on a daily basis. The activities of PCPM in Palestine are coordinated, inter alia, with the Palestinian Health Ministry and the WHO (Health Cluster).
At the invitation of the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, PCPM has been implementing a project to support the construction of a medical rescue system in Ethiopia since September 2021. Ethiopia, with a population of 110 million, does not have a unified system of training, equipment, or emergency services. The ambulance service under the Ministry of Health does not even operate in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa.
As part of the project financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland (Polska Pomoc, Polish Aid), PCPM supports educational centers educating the first cadres of paramedics, providing equipment, mannequins for medical simulations and instructors from Poland. In 2022, PCPM instructors will train ambulance service staff in cities outside Addis Ababa, but only those located away from the fighting zone in the northern part of the country.
Until October 2021, the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia had only 10 ambulances in its stock corresponding to the Polish standard of basic ambulance. The nearly 3,000 ambulances have almost no life-saving equipment. Thanks to funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PCPM equips 50 ambulances with defibrillators and advanced emergency kits; they will go to 10 main cities of the country. This year’s budget savings were used to purchase tents, operating tables and beds for hospital emergency departments. The total value of the project financed by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2021-23 is PLN 6 million (USD 1,5 million).
In liaison with the World Health Organization (WHO), PCPM also supports the construction of a medical emergency team of the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, which could help in the event of humanitarian crises in various regions of the country. The activities of PCPM in Ethiopia are based on a fully registered representative office and a framework agreement with the Ministry of Health, which opens the possibility of implementing other aid activities in the field of health protection or reconstruction after the civil war.
PCPM is also actively involved in humanitarian aid for the victims of the civil war in Ethiopia. In Debre Birhan, 120 km north-east of Addis Ababa, we are running a school pupils feeding project. Most children, thanks to the charity of private individuals from Poland, can eat at school the only hot meal during the day. The number of school children in our care has almost doubled over the past year due to the inflow of tens of thousands of IDPs (Internally Displaced People) into this region of Ethiopia from the north of the country.
Since 2015, PCPM has been implementing a firefighting training and hardware support program in Kenya that has transformed the fire brigade system in this country with a population of 50 million. In 2015-21 the number of firefighters and fire brigades increased threefold. The effectiveness of rescue and firefighting operations has improved significantly thanks to training by PCPM – financed by the Polish Aid (Polska Pomoc) program – of over 60% of Kenyan firefighters. Based on Polish experience, the first in Kenya core curriculum for vocational training of firefighters was certified, allowing students to be awarded a diploma of completing a vocational course. The training are carried out in the firefighting and rescue training center built in 2018-19 in the town of Kiambu, on the outskirts of Nairobi, jointly managed by PCPM and local authorities.
In 2021-23, the activities of PCPM, financed by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Polish Aid, Polska Pomoc), focus on supporting the fire brigade in responding to road accidents and the development of technical rescue. In 2022, we will complete the construction of a fire brigade unit, the launching of which will reduce the section of the Mombasa-Nairobi road where no road rescue services operate by 80%. In 2023, the construction of a second watchtower is planned closer to Nairobi, because the Mombasa-Nairobi road is the main transport artery for Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan (a total population of 120 million people), and up to several hundred people die every year.
The UN-Habitat Regional Office for Africa is interested in cooperation with PCPM in the expansion of the fire brigade system in African megacities. We hope that such joint projects will meet with the interest of the Polish Government and other international donors, and we will be able to present them at the World City Forum in Katowice in June 2022. Kenya fire services are also interested in buying up to 75 fire trucks from Poland, as long as they are properly adapted to African conditions and competitively priced.
PCPM has a fully registered office in Kenya, which also serves as a regional office supporting PCPM activities in Ethiopia and South Sudan, as well as planned projects in Tanzania, Uganda and Madagascar.
Since 2017, PCPM has been running a feeding center for children at risk of starvation in South Sudan, close to the Darfur (North Sudan) border. Every year, this lifesaving aid is used by nearly 1,500 children at risk of extreme malnutrition, and over 5,000 receive medical assistance. These activities worth over PLN 200.000 (USD 50 thousand) annually are financed only from PCPM’s own funds. Every March, we send a shipment of therapeutic food for children, medicines and other humanitarian aid to South Sudan. We have been carrying out these activities for many years in cooperation with the Order of the Comboni Missionaries. We hope to extend our cooperation with the Combonians to Kenya as well.
At the end of December 2021, in response to the increasingly threatening security situation in eastern Ukraine, PCPM began reactivating its operational activities, suspended in 2016 due to a lack of funds from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The PCPM team operates mainly in the Kharkiv Oblast and in the central government-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.
Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM
Since 2015, PCPM has been gradually developing a third area of its activity, complementary to humanitarian and development aid, i.e. crisis response. In April 2015, doctors and paramedics reached Nepal 46 hours after the earthquake, where, at the request of the Nepalese Ministry of Health, we ran a first aid station in the most devastated mountain valley (1,500 killed, over 3,000 wounded). In 2016-18, the PCPM Medical Rescue Team carried out a medical mission in Iraq (support for hospitals during the Islamic State offensive), Peru (assistance to flood victims, a mission at the invitation of the Ministry of Health of Peru) and in Uganda (medical assistance in the largest refugee camp in Africa). In October 2019, the PCPM Medical Rescue Team was certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the so-called Type 1 Emergency Medical Team, i.e. the first type of medical emergency team – as the 29th medical team in the world and only the 7th one led by a non-governmental organization.
In 2020-21, the Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM carried out 9 medical missions, including 8 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Support for the mission of the Military Medical Institute to Brescia, Italy, where Polish doctors worked in the intensive care unit. Mission financed by the Government of the Republic of Poland (March 2020)
- Preparation for fighting the pandemic and training of personnel in hospitals in Kyrgyzstan. Mission financed by WHO (April 2020)
- Preparation for fighting the pandemic and training of personnel in hospitals in Tajikistan. Mission financed by WHO (June 2020)
- Support for the operation of the intensive care unit in two hospitals in Lebanon. Mission financed by the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland (August-October 2020)
- Support for the operation of the intensive care unit in a 600-bed temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. Mission financed by the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland (September-October 2020)
- WHO expert mission in Madagascar. The doctor and two nurses supported the hospital in the capital city with their knowledge and experience as WHO experts for 1.5 months. Mission financed by WHO (August-October 2020).
- WHO expert mission to Uganda. The 13-person EMT PCPM (Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM) was a key support in the launch of the third intensive care unit for COVID-19 patients in Uganda, a country of 45 million (July-August 2021). Mission financed from PCPM’s own resources.
- Support for the mission of the Medical Emergency Team from Great Britain (UK NHS EMT) in the mission to Malawi (November 2021). Mission financed by the United Kingdom Government (DFID).
- In addition, the Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM provided assistance to the victims of the explosion in the port of Beirut, where we arrived 30 hours after the explosion.
For participation in medical missions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in December 2020, 6 associates of the Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM were awarded the Crosses of Merit for Bravery, a Polish medal. During the pandemic peaks in Poland, from November 2020 to the present day, many associates of the Poland Emergency Medical Team PCPM work in temporary hospitals for patients suffering from COVID-19, including at the National Stadium in Warsaw.
In January 2021, based on the WHO certification and thanks to the recommendations of the State Fire Service, the PCPM Medical Rescue Team was included as a crisis response module in the European Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCP). We are very grateful to the General Headquarters of the State Fire Service for supporting our application for a European Union adjustment grant, thanks to which in the years 2022-23 we will be able to expand the staffing of the Emergency Medical Team PCPM from the current 120 to about 200 people.
Medical emergency teams operating under the auspices of WHO, both governmental and non-governmental, are funded by home countries and provide voluntary support to the global emergency response system under the auspices of WHO and the UN. We are one of the few teams in the world that has real opportunities to provide expert support in the intensive care and treatment of COVID-19 patients in developing countries, especially in Africa.
In 2020, thanks to the funding of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland, we were able to carry out medical missions in Ethiopia and Lebanon. In 2021, although we received as many as 14 requests from WHO to carry out medical missions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of funding from the Polish government meant that we could only carry out one medical mission (the cost of a medical mission is several hundred thousand PLN). Our application for financial support for the activities of EMT PCPM in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, submitted to the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland on January 19, 2021, remained unanswered until December 28, 2021, when we were informed about the lack of funds.
In 2022, we plan to carry out further medical missions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the auspices of WHO or the EU. We are preparing to support intensive care units for COVID-19 patients in Tanzania and Sudan (if the security situation allows it). A big challenge for PCPM will be to find a method of financing the EMT PCPM mission from Polish sources so that the Polish medical team can actively participate in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the auspices of WHO and contribute to building a positive image of Poland on the international arena. During the last mission to Malawi, our associates had to wear British flags on their sleeves, not Polish ones, as the mission was financed by the British government, and Polish doctors supported the British Emergency Medical Team.
Support from state institutions. Contrary to Slovakia, Hungary and the Baltic states, Poland has several strong non-governmental organizations capable of implementing humanitarian and development aid projects outside the European Union to an extent consistent with Poland’s foreign policy. One may get the impression that this element of “soft power” has not been appreciated in the instruments of Polish foreign policy in recent years.
The presence of Polish non-governmental organizations increases the possibilities of traditional diplomacy. For this reason, PCPM runs permanent representations in Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Kenya and Ethiopia, but is also ready to start operations in Central Asia, resume operations in Ukraine and Georgia, or start projects in Moldova or African countries, such as Tanzania or Uganda. Having established a good brand, such representative offices can successfully apply for funding from the European Union or the United Nations.
While in 2022 the budget for development cooperation tasks amounts to as much as PLN 3.685 billion (USD 924 million), only 2.8% of this amount is allocated to foreign projects implemented by private entities or non-governmental organizations. This year, the budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland includes more funds for development cooperation, it is the first significant increase after 12 years of virtually zero growth.
For comparison, the Polish membership fee to the budgets of the European Union in the field of development aid amounts to PLN 2.236 billion (USD 560 million) – 60% of all Polish expenditure on development cooperation – from which Polish non-governmental organizations are not able to obtain any practical financing because they are too weak in competition with partners from the West. We need the support of state institutions.
In the perspective of 2022, PCPM will be grateful for the support of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other Polish institutions in gaining access to European Union funds for development cooperation and humanitarian aid under the new EU budget 2021-28. The implementation of the project by PCPM from the EU Madad funds is possible only thanks to the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, in particular the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Beirut. Therefore, we are asking for support at various levels of the European Union, including the Representation of the Republic of Poland to the EU and embassies in priority countries. We hope that with the cooperation of these institutions it will be possible to obtain for projects implemented under the Polish flag at least some of the PLN 2.236 billion (USD 560 million) paid by the Government of the Republic of Poland to the budget of the European Union every year. PCPM also has the implementation capacity to actively contribute to the current migration crisis in the countries of origin of migrants – especially in Lebanon, and in Iraq.