Greece and UNRWA construct a new school for Palestine refugees in Husseinieh

26 April 2009

26 April 2009

Damascus

H.E. Theodoros Kassimis, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister, today laid the foundation stone of a new school in Husseinieh, Damascus. The school will be constructed and equipped with a donation from the Greek Government. This brings the number of UNRWA schools in Syria to 120.

Operating on a double-shift basis, the school will accommodate 2000 boys and girls from the age of six to 15. The school will house 25 classrooms, a library, a science lab, a multi-purpose room for extra curricula activities, two computer labs, and a learning resource centre. With its Learning Support Centre, a new UNRWA initiative, the school will provide assistance to Palestine refugee students with disabilities and special learning needs in Husseinieh.

H.E. Kassimis reaffirmed his government’s commitment to supporting the programmes and activities of UNRWA. "We believe investing in school construction and education is the best investment for the future generations, for peace and stability."

Speaking at the ceremony, UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd expressed UNRWA‘s appreciation for the generous contribution it receives from the Greek Government. It is a fine example of the Greek commitment to supporting UNRWA‘s activities. "It was a timely and generous gesture which would help in meeting the needs of a rapidly increasing number of refugee children in Husseinieh," Ms AbuZayd also thanked private philanthropist Mr. Musatafa Beidas, who donated the land for the school.

Mr. Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR) thanked the Syrian Government for the efforts it exerts to support the Agency and Palestine refugees in Syria. "We are grateful to the Government and people of Greece for their generous contribution. Greece has always been a close friend to the Palestine people."

In addition to this contribution, the Greek Government has donated US$ 4 million to the UNRWA‘s appeal for its Quick Response Plan for Gaza.

For information only     Not an official record

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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 US$ 56 million.

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