Two new schools in Gaza thanks to German donation

22 March 2012

Jerusalem

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) signed an agreement today with the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), German federal agency financing economic and social progress, which will contribute EUR 3 million to construct two new schools in the Gaza Strip.

Announcing the donation at a signing ceremony in Jerusalem today, the Director of KfW Office in Amman, Ms. Bettina Tewinkel, said: “Living conditions of children and youth in Gaza are deeply affected by the extremely difficult situation in the Gaza strip. On behalf of the German Government and together with our partner, UNRWA, KfW’s engagement aims at improving the learning opportunities for young people. I am happy that by today’s signing of the agreement, we have taken a significant step forward to achieve this goal.”

The German funds will help UNRWA to expand its education programme, which already provides free schooling for over 218,000 students in Gaza, and almost half a million children across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank. With one of the largest school systems in the Middle East, UNRWA provides a high-quality education that includes pioneering curriculum in human rights and tolerance.

Welcoming the contribution, Ms. Marina Skuric-Prodanovic, Officer in Charge of the Department External Relations and communications of UNRWA, said: “We are very grateful that Germany continues to provide support to the Palestine refugees despite global challenges. KfW’s contribution towards the construction of the two new schools in Gaza, which will be used by 4,400 children, will further strengthen UNRWA’s efforts to provide education to young Palestine refugees.”

As the tenth-largest donor to UNRWA and a member of its Advisory Commission, Germany increased its annual support for the UN agency last year to EUR 16.4 million (US$ 23.5). Over the past decade, Germany has funded EUR 101.1 million worth of UNRWA projects across its five fields of operation.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, 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 and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.