The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), through generous funding from the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent (UAERC), commenced implementation of the second phase of the “construction and equipping of UNRWA Schools in the Gaza Strip” project at the beginning of 2016.This phase includes enhancing UNRWA’s education services to Palestine refugees through the construction of four schools - in Gaza city, Rafah (southern Gaza), Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun (both in northern Gaza). In 2013, through this project, UAERC contributed US $8 million to construct and equip eight schools in Gaza; four of these were completed in 2015 as phase one of the project, and are now fully operational.
UNRWA in Gaza currently accommodates almost 251,000 Palestine refugee students in its 257 schools in five areas across the coastal enclave. Seventy-six per cent of UNRWA’s school buildings operate on a double-shift basis (meaning two schools operate using the same building at different times of the day). This is primarily as result of population growth, where approximately seven to eight thousand new students enrol in UNRWA schools each year. The construction of new school buildings helps UNRWA support this growth and addresses the issue of overcrowding in classrooms, providing improved services to Palestine refugees.
The right of children to an education is important to families in Gaza, as it is elsewhere in the world. It is enshrined in the International Bill of Human Rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Recognizing that education is fundamental to helping each child achieve his or her full potential, UNRWA has worked for over 60 years to ensure that all Palestine refugee children have access to quality education.
High-quality basic education provides young Palestine refugees with an understanding of their place in the world and a common set of key values, including dignity, tolerance, cultural identity, gender equality and human rights, and helps them develop the skills to thrive as adults in an evolving, challenging landscape.
The UAERC’s donation contributes to these efforts. It has been a regular supporter of the Agency’s work on behalf of Palestine refugees, having also contributed frequently to providing food aid and undertaking shelter reconstruction projects in Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In addition, UAERC has funded the Rehousing Project in Khan Younis with US$ 19.7 million, for 600 new housing units.