UNRWA and EU inaugurate girls' dormitory at Damascus Training Centre

27 April 2009

27 April 2009

Damascus

Mr. Angel Gutierrez, Director of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Commission in Syria and Karen Koning AbuZayd, UNRWA Commissioner-General today inaugurated the European Union-funded girls‘ dormitory at the Damascus Training Centre (DTC) and took part in the activities of the Centre‘s Open Day.

The dormitory, which can accommodate 38 girls from remote parts of Syria, is part of the employment and vocational education project financed by the European Union. The project aims to alleviate poverty by enhancing employability and employment opportunities for Palestine refugees in Syria, especially the youth.

"Our partnership with the European Union is fundamental for achieving further and better opportunities for youth Palestine refugees, providing them access to a wider labour market and, eventually, the chance of an enhanced and brighter future, through proper education, skills training and vocational training courses," said AbuZayd.

In his speech, Mr. Gutierrez reaffirmed the EU support for UNRWA and Palestine refugees. "This project will further foster our partnership with UNRWA and will provide young Palestinian refugee women with the tools they need to establish themselves in the society."

Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees expressed his appreciation for the long-term support of the EU to the Palestine refugees. "We are grateful for all the help we have received from the EU and we are looking forward to future cooperation."

The inauguration of the girls’ dormitory, the first of its kind at the Centre, took place during the Damascus Training Centre’s Open Day. This year the Open Day focused on the Centre’s engineering section and included live demonstrations and exhibition of students’ work in Decoration and Interior design, Assistant Civil Engineering, Assistant Architect Carpentry and Furniture Making and Graphic Design.

The EUR2.5 million project started in 2006 and is now more than half way through its implementation. Achievements to date at the Damascus Training Centre include the renovation of workshops and building of new computer laboratories. The Centre’s facilities and course offerings were enriched with the introduction of two new courses in Graphic Design and Mechatronics. Thanks to these activities, which also include three month training courses, the Centre is able to make a real contribution to further enhancing the employability of Palestinian refugees by equipping them with relevant marketable skills.

The Damascus Training Centre provides vocational and technical training and equips Palestine refugees for the labour market.

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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$ 69 million.

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