UNRWA Opens US-Funded Community Centre in Yarmouk

20 May 2010

19 May 2010

A new community development centre was opened today in Yarmouk by Mr Charles F. Hunter, Chargé d’Affaires of the United States Embassy in Syria. The centre was built thanks to a generous donation of USD 1,397,400 from the US government.

“The United States is committed to supporting refugees and displaced people worldwide,” said Hunter in his address. “With this community centre, the people of the United States show their continued commitment to UNRWA’s human development work for Palestinian refugees in Syria.”

Filippo Grandi, UNRWA Commissioner-General, thanked the United States for the generous contribution. “The United States is our largest donor and we are deeply grateful for your longstanding support.” He also expressed his gratitude to the Syrian government for its essential cooperation.

The United States contributed almost USD 268 million to UNRWA in 2009, its largest yearly donation to date. In addition to the community centre, recent US-funded projects in Syria include the reconstruction of Ras el-Ain school in Yarmouk, and a nine-month emergency cash assistance project for Palestinian Iraqi refugees.

“This contribution is a vital investment in the Palestinian refugee community in Yarmouk,” said Mr Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestine refugees.

The new centre was designed and built in consultation with community. It will run programmes that focus on economic empowerment and addressing the needs of women, the disabled and other vulnerable members of the community. The new building replaces an old community development and women’s programme centre originally constructed in the 1960s but which and could no longer meet the community’s growing needs.

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, provides education, healthcare, relief and social services, and micro-credit services to over 470,000 Palestine refugees in Syria.

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Hala Mukhles
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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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