UNRWA Commissioner-General ends farewell visit to Syria

30 September 2009

Damascus

UNRWA Commissioner-General, Karen Koning AbuZayd, made her last official visit to Syria as UNRWA’s Commissioner-General.

"I feel very proud to have served as Commissioner-General of this great organization for the past five years, working towards improving Palestine refugees’ lives" said Ms. AbuZayd earlier in the day. "…and I feel especially grateful to the Syrian people and government for always lending a helpful hand to us".

During her three-day visit, Ms. AbuZayd held meetings with Government’s Ministers. Talks focused on current and future challenges facing the Agency and the Government’s critical role in supporting the Agency’s work.

Ms. AbuZayd singled out Mr. Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees, for "his unwaivering commitment to the rights of Palestine refugees, and for his on-going support to, and genuine interest in UNRWA’s activities, particularly those targeting the most vulnerable members of the community."

In Aleppo on 28 September, Ms. AbuZayd inaugurated the first phase of the Neirab Rehabilitation Project, one of the most ambitious shelter rehabilitation projects undertaken by UNRWA in Syria. This was followed on 29 September with the inauguration of facilities in Sbeineh Camp, financed with donations from the Governments of Germany and the United States, and the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Society, and attendance at the 2009 Global Peace Games for Children and Youth held at the Palestinian Athletics City, Yarmouk.

In a meeting with UNRWA staff, Ms. AbuZayd highlighted her deep appreciation to for all the support given during her term recognizing that UNRWA’s best asset is its human capital.

Karen Koning AbuZayd has served as UNRWA’s Commissioner-General since June 2005 and as its Deputy Commissioner-General from 2000-2005. She will step down at the end of this year.

For information only. Not an official record.

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.

For more information, please contact:

Hala Mukhles
Public Information Officer - Syria Field Office
Mobile: 
+ 963 (0) 940 88103
Office: 
+ 963 (0) 940 88103