The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) signed a 40.4 million dirhams (US$11 million) cooperation agreement, in addition to a Dh14.6 million (US$4 million) cooperation agreement between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), UNRWA and Dubai Cares, to support UNRWA education programmes in the Gaza Strip. The agreements will guarantee students in Gaza continued access to basic education in an appropriate school environment where basic education is available through UNRWA schools.
HE Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi, Assistant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Ms. Françoise Vanni, Director of External Relations and Communications at UNRWA and Mr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares, signed the cooperation agreements. The two cooperation agreements support the strategic objective that aims at ensuring comprehensive coverage of educational programmes for Palestine refugee children in the Gaza Strip throughout the academic year 2017-2018; a matter the UAE considers part of its commitment at the Cairo International Conference on the Gaza Reconstruction Plan in October 2014.
On this occasion, HE Sultan Al Shamsi remarked that the UAE grant supports the development of teaching methods and skills, by providing different types of educational materials for 15,173 Palestinian refugee children in 14 schools in 14 different areas of the Gaza Strip for the academic year 2017-2018. It will also enable UNRWA to provide a safe learning environment for Palestinian refugee children by maintaining clean and healthy school facilities.
The grant will also provide educational material, stationery, school bags and other supplies to all Palestinian refugee students in the Gaza Strip, to relieve students and their families of additional financial burdens at the beginning of each school year, as many families in the Gaza Strip require humanitarian assistance.
“The UAE is committed to providing help and support to Palestinian refugees, for it greatly values the importance of education in building a brighter future for Palestinian school boys and school girls. We will continue to work with our partners to provide the necessary assistance to support and protect the right Palestinian children to education. We look forward to joining efforts to support pressing humanitarian issues,” he observed.
“I wish to wholeheartedly thank the UAE Government and Dubai Cares for their generous contributions towards the UNRWA programme budget which provides basic services of education, health, protection, relief and social services to over 5.3 million Palestine refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” said UNRWA Director of External Relations and Communications Francoise Vanni. “The UAE, and for the third year in a row, was among the leading countries that came forward in September 2017, pledging additional support that enabled the Agency to carry out its humanitarian mandate to Palestine refugees. A US$61 million still remains to be secured in the coming weeks to ensure that services continue uninterrupted and to maintain stability in the region,” stressed Vanni.
“This cooperation agreement will be another milestone in the exemplary partnership and cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Dubai Cares, on the one hand, and UNRWA on the other hand,” noted HE Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares.
“We wish to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation supporting this agreement, which will undoubtedly contribute to alleviating the suffering of Palestinian refugees. In recent years, repeated conflicts and blockades affected thousands of students in the Gaza Strip, leaving a devastating impact on their educational attainment. Through this agreement, Dubai Cares looks forward to contributing and ensuring that students in the Gaza Strip continue to receive the right education in an appropriate school environment, which offers educational fundamentals that will help them overcome all the challenges they face in their educational journey and build a promising future for themselves and for their community,” he concluded.
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.