21 December 2012
The Government of Germany through the German Development Bank (KfW) contributed this week EUR 3 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) during a signing ceremony in East Jerusalem. The funds will be used to construct two UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip. The contribution was announced earlier this month when Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel visited Gaza.
Director of UNRWA’s Department of External Relations and Communications Salvatore Lombardo welcomed the contribution, saying: "We are grateful for Germany‘s strong support for our services in Gaza. This latest contribution is even further evidence of the strong partnership between UNRWA and the German Government, working together to improve the lives of Palestine refugees and their educational pursuits."
Present at the ceremony was Director of KfW in the occupied Palestinian territory Thomas Eisenbach, who said: "We are looking forward to continue the successful cooperation between UNRWA, the German Government and KfW in the important education sector, which will allow more refugee students to receive a better education, which is crucial for the further development of Gaza and its people."
In Gaza, several factors—chief among them the ongoing blockade--have severely impacted the ability of students to obtain an education in a healthy environment. Once built, the schools will contribute to improving the education system for students in Gaza and offer practical support to ease the challenges faced by refugee students.
With this contribution, the Government of Germany has donated over USD 27.5 million this year, becoming the seventh largest donor to the Agency. Between 2007 and 2011, Germany contributed nearly USD 86 million to UNRWA operations in the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency‘s General Fund, supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit.
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