Inauguration of the UNRWA Qalqilya Basic Girls’ School

09 February 2016
© 2016 UNRWA Photo by Riham Jafary

Yesterday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) inaugurated the UNRWA Qalqilya Basic Girls’ School in Qalqilya, located in the northern West Bank.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by the Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Felipe Sanchez; the local representative of IDB, Hani Abu Diab; the UNRWA Senior External Relations and Projects Officer, Munir Manneh; representatives of the Qalqilya municipality; UNRWA staff members; and representatives of the Palestinian community and school students.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Mr. Sanchez said: “This school is one more positive example of the Agency’s continued investments in expanding human development and opportunities for Palestine refugees. A good school environment is a key component in providing refugee children with quality, equitable and inclusive basic education. With the generous contribution from the Al-Aqsa Fund, which is managed by IDB, UNRWA has been able to build such a new, safe and inspiring school environment here in Qalqilya.”

Mr. Manneh said: “The Al-Aqsa Fund, which has been managed by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) since it was established in 2000, has provided about US$ 650 million in assistance to the Palestinian people. IDB has long been a valued partner of the Agency – providing assistance of about US$ 100 million through the years – and this school, along with many other IDB-supported projects in the West Bank, is an important reminder of their support to UNRWA."

Mr. Abu Diab, speaking on behalf of IDB, said: "It has been our pleasure to work with UNRWA, which helps provide educational opportunities to almost 500,000 Palestine refugees. We are very proud to be a part of this partnership as we aim to alleviate the hardships endured by Palestine refugees.”

With a generous donation of approximately US$ 2,000,000 from the Al-Aqsa Fund, managed by IDB, UNRWA has tremendously improved the learning environment for 1,047 students at the Qalqilya Basic Girls’ School.

The donation has allowed UNRWA to expand, renovate and furnish the Qalqilya Basic Girls’ School, which was built in 1950 and recently deemed structurally deficient. With new counseling, remedial and vocational education rooms, the School now also provides the space needed for extracurricular and educational activities and accommodates the demographic growth of the school populations.

The Islamic Development Bank has been managing several generous grants supporting UNRWA since 2001, placing an emphasis on the education programme. The Bank’s most recent grant for the UNRWA West Bank Field Office was launched in 2011, providing US$ 3.2 million for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of educational facilities in Shu’fat camp, as well as US$ 1.7 million to support vocational training centers in the West Bank.

Background Information

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.