Khalifa Bin Zayed Foundation First to Adopt a School in Gaza

12 May 2010

12 May 2010
Gaza

On 12 May UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi presided over a ceremony to mark the adoption of a school in Gaza by the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nehayan Foundation based in Abu Dhabi. With media representatives and UN officials in attendance, Grandi praised the Khalifa Bin Zayed Foundation for its generous support and formally named the school the “Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahayan School, Beit Lahia”.

The Beit Lahia school was shelled with artillery and white phosphorus shells during the Israeli assault on Gaza in January 2009, while it was serving as a shelter for 1,800 Gazans. A classroom took a direct hit. Four pupils died and a number were injured.

The school building hosts two schools, one for boys and one co-ed. It serves 2,576 pupils.

This is the first school adoption under UNRWA’s new “Adopt a School” initiative. Adoption enables UNRWA’s partners to participate directly in providing Palestinian refugee schoolchildren with a decent education. The Khalifa Foundation will take on a major part of the costs of repairing and operating the Beit Lahia school for a year. Pupils will benefit directly by being provided with computers, uniforms, and hygiene kits.

Commissioner-General Grandi said: “This ceremony sets the seal on a relationship between the children of Gaza, the Khalifa Bin Zayed Foundation and beyond that, the people of the UAE. We are deeply grateful to the Foundation and its Patron, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, for this new partnership with UNRWA which we hope will encourage other partners to come forward and adopt a school. We may not be able to build much-needed new schools because of the Israeli restrictions on bringing in construction materials, but with help from partners like the Khalifa Bin Zayed Foundation we can at least ensure that existing schools are functioning properly and serving the children well.”

UNRWA and the Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan Foundation began their cooperation in 2008 with a project to provide food to the refugees in Gaza. Since then, UNRWA and KBZF have worked together on programmes benefiting Palestine refugees in the West Bank, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon as well as Gaza.

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For any additional information on the Adopt a School initiative, please contact Mr. Housni Moussly on +962 6 5808 511 or h.moussly@unrwa.org

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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