UNRWA Commissioner-General Joins Minister of Women's Affairs to Combat Violence Against Women

14 December 2009

11 December

Ramallah, West Bank

CG and Minister

Yesterday in the Ramallah Womens’ Training Centre, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) concluded its two-week campaign to end violence against women. In attendance were Ms. Karen Abu Zayd, the Agency’s outgoing Commissioner-General, Barbara Shenstone, Director of UNRWA’s operations in the West Bank, and Her Excellency the Minister of Women’s Affairs Mrs. Rabiha Diab, as well as a diverse audience of activists, officials and students of UNRWA schools and training centres.

The ceremony opened with the Palestinian national anthem and a speech by Ms Abu Zayd focusing on the morale of Palestinian women, and the Agency’s efforts to combat gender-based violence in an environment where human rights violations are common. A speech by Diab focused on the role of women in government, and the preservation of women’s rights though Palestinian legislation and decision-making.

Light entertainment was also on hand courtesy of students from UNRWA schools, who performed with music and song. Posters and banners calling for an end to gender-based violence were also festooned around the event, which ended with the presentation of a film designed to provoke discussion.

UNRWA organized a campaign against violence against women from the November 25th 2009 until December 11th 2009, to coincide with an international campaign on the issue. Yesterday’s event marked the final day of that campaign.

For further information, please contact:

Public Information Office
UNRWA West Bank Field Office
Tel: +972 2 589 0409

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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 more than US$ 106  million.

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