UNRWA Open Day Showcases New Initiatives

04 May 2010

4 May 2010

UNRWA’s Damascus Training Centre (DTC) celebrated its annual Open Day today, 4 May, to showcase achievements in technical and vocational training, to promote its youth training and employability initiatives, and to encourage private sector partnerships.

Roger Hearn, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria, stressed the importance UNRWA places on enhancing its practical education, saying: “Our goal is to ensure young Palestine refugees have the skills and confidence to succeed in Syria’s changing economy.” He thanked the Syrian government for making Syria a conducive environment for Palestinian job seekers and the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR) for its firm and continued support.

The DTC provides a range of two-year technical and vocational training courses to over 1,000 Palestinian students per year, 80 per cent of whom find employment upon graduation. The Centre has also recently introduced three-month courses geared towards preparing skilled labourers for the immediate needs of the job market.

“Modernising the DTC and other educational facilities is a key element in UNRWA’s youth initiatives,” said Fouzi Madfa’a, principal of the DTC. The European Union’s support has allowed many critical improvements to the facilities and its services: introducing new courses, upgrading others, and establishing a girls’ dormitory.

In addition to hard skills, the DTC has been opening the eyes of the students to the world of the private sector. Creating an awareness of career opportunities as well as entrepreneurship possibilities will allow many to better transform their skills into productive livelihoods that match the needs of Syria’s growing economy. UNRWA seeks to expand and enhance partnerships with the private sector to further support the training and placement of young Palestinians.

Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR), thanked the Syrian government for its continued support to Palestine refugees and highlighted GAPAR’s fruitful cooperation with UNRWA.

UNRWA provides education, healthcare, social services, shelter, and micro-credit services to a population of over 470,000 Palestine refugees in Syria.

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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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