Inauguration of Zarqa Girls School

16 November 2009

Filippo Grandi16 November 2009

Address by Filippo Grandi, UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General

Zarqa, Jordan

Assistant Secretary of State,
Your Excellencies
Distinguished guests, colleagues:

It is my pleasure to be with you today to inaugurate the new Zarqa Girls School.

Construction of this school has been made possible through the generous financial contribution of the government of the United States of America. On behalf of UNRWA and Palestine refugees, Assistant Secretary of State, I express my deep appreciation for your support.

As a 60-year old agency having assisted several generations of refugees, UNRWA attaches particular attention to the provision of education. Not only because education is essential to our development as individuals and societies, or because it is a fundamental human right, but also because for families and communities that have lived in exile for so long, education is the means – indeed one of the only means- to pave the way to a successful and productive future.

Through its mandate to deliver basic services to Palestine refugees, UNRWA has a duty to ensure that every child has access to quality education– regardless of gender and socio-economic background or whether residing in countries at peace or in conflict areas.

UNRWA works tirelessly to achieve this goal, here in Jordan, but also in Syria, Lebanon and in the occupied Palestinian territory. We could not succeed without the support of our donors, the sustained engagement of the host authorities and the active participation of our beneficiaries. I also take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to the Government of Jordan for its unfaltering assistance.

Zarqa is the oldest camp in Jordan and today’s inauguration is an example of what can be achieved when we join forces. Until a just and lasting solution to the refugees’ plight is achieved, it is my hope that we will continue to work side by side to contribute to the development of healthy, peaceful and educated Palestinian communities.

Thank you.

Background Information

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, and microfinance.

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 (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106  million.

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