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Mercy Corps working closer with Middle East partners

West Bank and Gaza, June 15, 2009

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Kristi Heim

The Seattle Times
June, 2009

Mercy Corps received a $10 million contribution this week from Qatar Charity for its work in the Gaza Strip. The two organizations said they will focus largely on developing economic opportunities.

Mercy Corps and Qatar Charity signed an agreement to collaborate on a large-scale cash-for-work program involving removing rubble, restoring buildings, helping fishermen and small farmers, teaching entrepreneurship skills and designing a business resource center.

The groups said the funds will also help expand the Global Citizen Corps, a Mercy Corps leadership training program for young people in the region.

Mercy Corps has worked in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the 1980s. Ongoing instability has crippled the economy and contributed to the highest unemployment rate in the world.

Qatar Charity, a private Islamic charity started in 1992 and based in Doha, is one of the largest NGOs in the Persian Gulf region. For Mercy Corps it is the second collaboration this year with an NGO from Qatar. In January Mercy Corps announced a partnership with Reach Out to Asia to address disasters, conflicts and economic collapse in the region.

Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer, meeting with representatives from Qatar Charity in Portland this week, said partnerships with Middle East-based organizations are essential in efforts to achieve stability and prosperity in Gaza.