The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development through the Islamic Development Bank signs groundbreaking agreement to build schools in Gaza

05 December 2011

5 December 2011

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development acting through the Islamic Development Bank have signed an agreement worth US$ 9,550,000 to construct five new schools in the Gaza Strip. The agreement was signed in Amman between the Director of the IDB’s Trust Funds Department, Mr Mansour Bin Feten, and Mr Peter Ford, Representative of the UNRWA Commissioner-General.

Education forms the Agency’s largest programme and UNRWA currently educates more than 218,000 refugee students across 243 schools in the Gaza Strip. About 94 per cent of the schools are run on a double-shift basis and the average class size in Gaza is 38.5 pupils. These five new schools will go a significant way towards easing the overcrowding that is endemic in Gaza’s schools, and which has begun to negatively impact on academic attainment levels.

Among the five schools funded by the Kuwait Fund is a groundbreaking, pilot “environmental zero impact” school, designed by the Italian architecture firm, Mario Cucinella Architects, which will be showcased by UNRWA at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Durban, South Africa. It is hoped that the green school concept will be rolled out more widely across the Gaza Strip in the coming years.

Commenting on the agreement, Mr Filippo Grandi, UNRWA Commissioner-General, underlined that: “UNRWA is delighted to have signed this agreement to build five schools in Gaza. Education remains the key intervention for the Agency in Gaza and we are most grateful that the Kuwait Fund has come on board to help us meet our goals for Palestine refugee children. This contribution is the first-ever agreement between UNRWA and the Kuwait Fund, acting through the Islamic Development Bank, one of the Agency’s most valued partners, and we are confident that this marks the start of a long and fruitful relationship. We are particularly pleased that the Kuwait Fund and the IDB have decided to fund the pilot green school, an exciting and groundbreaking initiative for the Agency.”

Established in 1961, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development assists Arab and other developing countries in developing their economies by providing loans, guarantees, grants, technical assistance, and contributing to capital stocks of international and regional development finance institutions and other development institutions.

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For more information please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724

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 more than US$ 106  million.

For more information, please contact:

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