Spain contributes to school rebuilding in Lebanon

06 October 2009

6 October 2009

Beirut

A newly reconstructed school has been officially inaugurated in El Buss camp in the Tyre area of Lebanon, under the patronage and the presence of his Excellency H.E. Juan Carlos Gafo, the Spanish Ambassador to Lebanon and Mr. Salvatore Lombardo, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon.

With a generous donation from the Government of Spain, UNRWA was able to reconstruct and furnish a school premises namely Deir Yassin, which can fit 550 students from grades 1 to 7. The students will indeed be benefiting from a single shift system through which the teaching time will be increased. Moreover, and with the large space available, Deir Yassin school creates opportunities for after school recreational and educational activities.

In his address to the representatives of the local community, students and parents of students attending the inauguration, the Spanish Ambassador H.E. Juan Carlos Gafo said: "The reconstruction of Deir Yassin school will significantly contribute to offer more and better opportunities to El Buss Camp children as well as to its entire community. Education is not only a basic right but, I believe, the basis for conflict prevention and access to labour market. Spanish commitment to the Palestinian people remains unaltered. I praise UNRWA’s work and its constant efforts to dignify the living conditions of the Palestinians in the camps."

Salvatore Lombardo, Director of UNRWA Affairs, Lebanon, took the opportunity to thank the Spanish Government for their generous support. "The reconstruction of this school has tremendously changed the learning environment for the 450 students of Deir Yassin," he said, "the new premises also will serve the community much better overall, with the possibility of utilizing the building for after school activities."

Spain is amongst UNRWA‘s ten most generous donors and provides contributions to both the Agency‘s General Fund and regular and emergency projects. Last year, the Government of Spain contributed to the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared Camp (NBC) in North Lebanon through the Multi-Donor Trust Fund, with Euro 6 million, and donated Euro 0.5 million for rubble removal activities in NBC channeled through UNDP. Previously, in the aftermath of the July 2006 war, Spain contributed to UNRWA‘s Early Recovery Plan with Euro 2 million, followed in 2007 by a donation of EUR 300,000 towards UNRWA‘s 2007 Flash Appeal in response to the humanitarian crisis in North Lebanon.

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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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