Islamic Development Bank helps young refugees get trained for the workforce

18 June 2012

East Jerusalem, West Bank

At a ceremony held on the outskirts of Jerusalem today, over 300 young Palestine refugees graduated from their vocational training at the Kalandia Training Centre, a facility run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Here and in nine other centres throughout its fields of operation, UNRWA helps over 6,600 young refugees every year become more employable with vocational training – thanks to the financial support of partners like the Al Aqsa Fund acting through the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

Mr. Peter Ford, Representative of the UNRWA Commissioner-General, congratulated the students on their achievements today: “UNRWA is extremely proud to be celebrating the achievements of the young refugees graduating from the Kalandia Training Centre today. Through both their hard work and the generosity of the Al Aqsa Fund through the Islamic Development Bank, these young people have managed to turn around their lives and lay the foundations for a successful future.”

In January 2011, UNRWA and the IDB signed a USD 4.9 million agreement to support education in the Jerusalem area, including USD 1.7 million to support the development of vocational training at the Kalandia Training Centre. Through this support, the Al Aqsa Fund has helped UNRWA to provide training in 12 market-relevant specialisations to some 320 trainees between the ages of 15 and 20.

“The support from the Al Aqsa Fund through the IDB has helped to equip these young refugees with market-relevant skills”, continued Mr. Ford. “This promotes their steadfastness in their land, and contributes to the development and human capital of the Palestine refugee population. Our partnership with the IDB continues to go from strength to strength, and we look forward to building on the remarkable success already achieved thanks to their support.”

The IDB contribution has been used to purchase new modern equipment to upgrade courses, and to create stronger links and partnerships with the private sector – enhancing the employment prospects of graduates at a time of high youth unemployment and poverty rates.

Education and employment are especially critical for the refugee community living in the West Bank, mitigating the effects of displacement, land fragmentation, access restrictions, and dispossession.

The Al Aqsa Fund has managed funds in support of relief and development in aid of the Palestinian people since its inception in 2000. The IDB is an international financial institution, which works to foster economic development and social progress in its member countries and Muslim communities in accordance with the principles of Islamic law, through the provision of loans and grants.

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