Welfare Ministry appoints consultant for Arab sector

Meir Cohen hires Dunia Baransi to “work intensively with the Arab local authorities in promoting social welfare issues."

August 4, 2013 19:00
1 minute read.
Women walking in the mixed Arab-Jewish city Lod

Women walking in the mixed Arab-Jewish city Lod 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Welfare Minister Meir Cohen appointed on Sunday a consultant for welfare issue in the Arab sector who will “work intensively with the Arab local authorities in promoting social welfare issues including programs dealing with poverty. The consultant, Dunia Baransi, a mother of four who resides in Taybeh, is an educator, former professor and education director at a private college.

The move came after Cohen had pledged to appointing an Arab sector consultant back in March as he took over the Ministry and replaced Moshe Kahlon.

According to data provided by the Ministry on welfare issue in the Arab sector, the poverty rate among Israeli Arabs is the highest in the country and stands at some 53.5% , which is the equivalent of about 171,000 families, compared with only 19.9% among the Jewish population.

The figures presented, which were the result of a study conducted Cohen himself in cooperation with the National Insurance Institute recently, also revealed that more than half of the total Arab population - about 882,000 families - live below the poverty line, compared to only 24.8% of the Jewish population.

“These are severe numbers that we cannot tolerate,” Cohen stated, “In order to fight the poverty rate in Israel, we need to act through specific programs in the most disadvantaged populations, including the Arab community in Israel.”

The minister also added that a clear priority will be given to Arabs residing in the periphery, including Arab Israelis.

According to the ministry, Baransi has already begun her work and is mapping welfare issues in Arab municipalities and establishing contact with welfare departments.

Baransi is scheduled to meet with Arab mayors next month in order to formulate, with the Ministry, a plan for the advancement of social issues in the sector.

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