On International Day of Persons with Disabilities UNRWA and Ministry of Social Affairs open handicraft exhibition

04 December 2011

West Bank

4 December marks International Day of Persons with Disability. On this occasion, the disability programme of the relief and social services department organised a fun day in Ramallah along with a handicraft exhibition, produced by people with special needs. Majida Masri, Minister of Social Affairs, along with Siham Barghouti, Minister of Culture, attended the opening ceremony along with UNRWA officials. The exhibition took place on the margins of a central event organised at the Ramallah Men’s Training Centre.

Du’a Ballout is a disabled 19-year-old refugee from Fara’a near Nablus. Despite the many hurdles she faces due to her disability, she managed to obtain a diploma as a medical secretary from UNRWA’s women’s training centre in Ramallah. She explains: “UNRWA is the only institution that has helped me through its various programmes. I benefited from its job creation programme for a period of time, and I also obtained my primary, secondary and academic education from UNRWA, hence I am very grateful.”

UNRWA’s disability programme aims at enhancing and rehabilitating people with special needs to increase their participation in society. It has been operational for more than 20 years, partnering with more than 15 local committees for rehabilitation in the various camps of the West Bank. In 2010, UNRWA developed a policy for integrating people with disabilities in a better manner, and established a lobby group to defend their cause. Overall, UNRWA assists more than 4,000 persons with disabilities along with their families by rehabilitating their homes and providing them with aid tools, vocational training, and transferring them to specialised institutions.

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$ 100 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications & Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724