New telephone hotline strengthens legal protection for Palestine refugee women

05 May 2010

5 May 2010
Damascus

A legal advice and counselling telephone hotline was launched today at the Yarmouk Legal Advice Bureau.

The new hotline was established at the request of local women who will now be able to access information and advice on a range of legal and family issues easily and confidentially. The hotline is part of a project between UNRWA and a British-based NGO, the Damask Rose Trust, which aims to build legal protection for Palestine refugee women across the country. The project is partially funded from the British Embassy in Damascus.

Present at the launch were Mr Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR), Mr Irfan Siddiq, Deputy Head of Mission of the British Embassy, Mr Geoffrey Salkeld, Damask Rose Trustee, Ms Margot Ellis, UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General and Roger Hearn, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria.

In his address, Mr Siddiq offered his sincere thanks to the hotline and volunteers. He said: “This project implemented by UNRWA, with the support of the Damask Rose Trust, is of real importance to the lives of people at risk. I am confident that British organisations like the Damask Rose Trust will continue to assist the most vulnerable members of the Palestine refugee community in Syria.”

Women can access the free hotline by calling 9847 from anywhere in Syria between 4pm and 8pm, every day except Friday. The volunteer staff can connect callers, as appropriate, to a lawyer, social worker or member of the women’s committee. Both volunteers and professionals attended a four-month training programme in dealing with the specific issues raised by this project.

The Damask Rose Trust focuses on training and capacity-building projects that address the needs of disadvantaged groups.

UNRWA provides education, healthcare, social services, shelter, and micro-credit services to over 470,000 Palestine refugees in Syria.


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For further information please contact:
Hala Mukhles
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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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