Nine new classrooms for refugee students in Lebanon with Swiss donation

07 March 2012

Beirut, Lebanon

Palestine refugee children in Lebanon will have more space for learning this year, thanks to a USD 546,259 donation from the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC). The voluntary contribution from the Swiss government to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has built nine new classrooms, a playground, and a cafeteria at Ein Al Assal school in the Rashidieh refugee camp.

At the opening ceremony for the school’s expanded facilities, Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon Her Excellency Ruth Flint said, “The SDC piloted this model with UNRWA to set an example and to trigger interest from other donors, so that other camps can enjoy such facilities.”

Also attending the inauguration were the Head of SDC Lebanon Mrs. Heba Hage Felder, Mr. Ibrahim Abou Khalil representing the President of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, a representative of the Embassy of Palestine in Lebanon, and Salvatore Lombardo, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, as well as representatives of the Palestinian community.

“Having a healthier environment is key to quality education,” Lombardo said. “Thanks to this generous contribution from the SDC, this will now be available to these students. This donation also shows Switzerland’s longstanding and firm commitment to Palestine refugees in Lebanon.”

In addition to the school expansion, the SDC funded a new water project worth USD 2.62 million to will enable UNRWA to provide a network of clean drinking water for 70,000 Palestine refugees residing in seven camps throughout Lebanon. The SDC also funds three employment service centres in Lebanon to boost employment prospects for refugees.

Background Information

UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, and financial support has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, deepening poverty and conflict. As a result, the UNRWA General Fund, which supports core essential services and most staffing costs, operates with a large deficit. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large deficits, are funded through separate funding portals. 

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+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