Last week, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) launched the Agency’s enrolment campaign to encourage Palestine refugee children in Lebanon to go back to school during an event held at Haifa school in Beirut, under the patronage of the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone and in the presence of the Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, Julia Koch de Biolley.
With support from the European Union’s Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis – The MADAD Fund, and in order to improve enrolment and retention rates in UNRWA schools and vocational centres, UNRWA is implementing an outreach campaign to inform and mobilize communities to send their children back to school. The campaign targets Palestine refugee children aged 6-18 who are living in Lebanon, but have been out of school for an extended period of time. The campaign is also being implemented in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Terre Des Hommes Italia, and American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) and complements the national Lebanese Back-to-School campaign.
Representatives from UNRWA, the European Union, UNICEF, Terre Des Hommes Italia, ANERA, Palestine refugee children, family members and community members, gathered at the school to learn about the Agency’s services and enjoy an exhibition featuring artwork by students and recreational activities.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Cordone said, “Education is of fundamental value to everyone in the Palestine refugee community, and UNRWA is fully committed to high-quality education for all Palestine refugees.”
“I want to ensure that every Palestine refugee child in Lebanon has the opportunity to go to school. Please encourage your friends and family members to enrol their children,” he added. He also expressed his gratitude to the European Union, UNICEF Terre Des Hommes Italia, and ANERA for supporting the efforts to bring children back to school.
“Children have the right to play, to go to school, to dream of a better future. We are doing our best to make sure that they receive the education and all the support they need, that they have the opportunity to be active and create positive dynamics in their communities,” Mrs. Koch de Biolley said.
Bayan Abdul Wahab is one of the Back-to-School campaign’s young ambassadors; she achieved 95 per cent in the official Lebanese Brevet exams, ranking first among students in UNRWA schools and sixth nationally. She said, “Success is a mixture of hard work and perseverance. I invite all the students who are out of school to commit and return to their school seats, where their places are saved, because eventually this is where we can build a nation.”
Additional community events are being held between 21 and 31 August 2017 across Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon to highlight the enrolment campaign.
EU and UNRWA: Together for Palestine Refugees
Since 1971, the European Union and UNRWA have maintained a strategic partnership governed by the shared objective to support the human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestine refugees and promote stability in the Middle East. Today, the European Union is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. This reliable and predictable support from the European Union enables UNRWA to provide core services to more than 5 million Palestine refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, including quality education for roughly half a million children and primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients. Collectively, the EU and its Member States are also among the largest contributors to the Agency’s humanitarian emergency appeals and projects in response to various crises and specific needs across the region. The partnership between the European Union and UNRWA has allowed millions of Palestine refugees to be better educated, live healthier lives, access employment opportunities and improve their living conditions, thus contributing to the development of the entire region.
The EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis – the MADAD Fund
At the center of the EU aid response to the Syrian refugee crisis, the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis, supports up to 1,5 million Syrian refugees and their host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Western Balkans.
Since its establishment in December 2014, an increasing share of the EU’s non-humanitarian support to Syria’s neighbouring countries is provided through the EU Trust Fund.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.