UNRWA and Islamic Relief inaugurate new school in Askar

21 February 2011

21 February 2011
Nablus, West Bank

The United Nation Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and Islamic Relief inaugurated today Askar Community Basic School for Boys in Askar Camp. The school was funded by Islamic Relief for US$ 1.150 million. It will enhance and improve the quality of UNRWA’s education system to open better employment prospects for Palestinians in the future.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by the head of Islamic Relief – West Bank Palestine, the Palestinian Prime Minister Dr Salam Fayyad, and the director of UNRWA operations in the West Bank, Barbara Shenstone, as well as number of senior UNRWA staff, representatives of the local community and school students.

Shenstone thanked Islamic Relief for its continuous and generous support to UNRWA, particularly its commitment to furthering the education of young Palestinians. She said: “Improving the education of Palestine refugees is essential for the improvement of their living conditions in general.”

Shenstone highlighted the efforts that have been actively exerted by the Askar Camp Popular Committee in seeking funding and mobilising local and international partners for the construction of schools in the post-1967 parts of Askar Camp.

Shenstone expressed her hope to see more of this happening in other parts of the West Bank. She said: “UNRWA looks forward to continued partnership with Islamic Relief. We hope that the new school facilities, built to our standards by Islamic Relief, are one of many more projects to be implemented with future generous contributions from Islamic Relief and its affiliate organisations.”

The Director of Islamic Relief in the West Bank expressed his hope: “I am confident that Askar Basic Community School for Boys will closely cooperate with the local community and it will improve the educational process in the camp.”

The school premises provide a healthy and sustainable school education environment for 550 students. Its construction helps UNRWA to run recreational and curriculum supportive activities, since the new school consists of 18 classrooms, a computer room, a science laboratory, a library, vocational education room, a teachers’ room, a head teacher’s room, an assistant head teacher’s room, a counselling room, a storeroom, latrines, external works, external canteen with shading shed, playgrounds and other particulars.

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 more than US$ 106  million.

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