Against the Odds

An UNRWA Education for Palestine Refugees in Times of Emergency



The EU supports UNRWA's efforts
to improve access to education
for Palestine refugee children

It is time for nearly half a million Palestine refugee children to come back to school, and this autumn, 703 UNRWA schools will open their doors across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But most of these children will be returning to school in very difficult situations of instability, conflict and fear.

Their education is threatened, in Gaza, by an extended blockade, and in the West Bank by displacements and movement restrictions. Going back to school will be especially difficult for Palestine refugee students from Syria, as the ongoing conflict disrupts their lives - closing some schools and overcrowding others, and forcing many students to flee to Lebanon or Jordan, where they must begin again with new curriculums, new systems and no sense of stability.

UNRWA made a commitment to ensure a good, reliable education for Palestine refugees. Despite the many challenges, the conflict and the distress that this Back-to-School season presents to our students and staff, we continue to stand by that pledge. UNRWA is there to work for the development, dignity and stability of Palestine refugees - and that starts with their education.

Syria Emergency: Back to School


For most children, going back to school means returning to a familiar place and seeing old friends, but for Akram, a 12-year-old Palestine refugee in Syria, everything will be different when he starts sixth grade this fall. He used to live in Yarmouk and attend the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Tarshiha School, but in December 2012, he was forced to flee the encroaching violence with his family, leaving behind his home, his school and a familiar way of life.

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10-year old Rama talks about going back to school in Syria

Last year, 10-year-old Rama’s school in Syria was closed, but this fall she is resuming her studies at an UNRWA centre in Damascus. Here, she shares a message with other Palestine refugee children.

UNRWA Summer Activities: A Breath of Life after War and Displacement

Aya Nimr, a 10-year old Palestine refugee girl, grew up in Yalda, south-east of Damascus. She has fond memories of living there, but eventually the ongoing conflict in Syria, which injured one of her uncles and killed another, forced her family to flee. When they arrived in Lebanon, in mid-2012, “we thought that we had reached a haven of stability and that we could return to the normal pace of our lives, but every two weeks, we had to pack and move from one house to another.”

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Story of My School

This fall, nearly 500,000 Palestine refugee children will go back to more than 700 UNRWA schools in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In all of these areas, however, UNRWA students and their schools face serious challenges, including demolitions and access restrictions in the West Bank and serious poverty in Gaza. The ongoing conflict in Syria has been particularly hard on young Palestine refugees, including those who have fled to Jordan and Lebanon. Many have left behind their homes, their friends and their schools. As children around the world go back to school, these young Palestine refugees share the story of their schools

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Back to School in Times of Emergency

This fall, Palestine refugee students go back to school in a region in turmoil. Anwar Abu-Sakieneh -- UNRWA Spokesperson in Jordan -- talks about the challenges facing the nearly 500,000 Palestine refugees who will return to more than 700 UNRWA schools in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip


Over 50% of Agency Schools in Syria Closed Due to Conflict Back to School

As children around the world prepare to go back to school this fall, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) regrets to announce that over half of its schools in Syria have closed, affecting nearly two thirds of Palestine refugee students there.

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In the West Bank, UNRWA Supports Students and Parents Accessing Education

Anas Hajajleh, an 11-year-old boy, will begin fifth grade in September 2013 in one of the West Bank schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The thought of seeing his friends and teachers again and studying the subjects he loves – he plans to one day be a doctor – puts a smile on his face. This year, however, what used to be a five-minute journey to school will be an hour-long commute, and that’s not the only problem he will face going back to school this fall.

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10-year-old Anas Hajajleh talks about going back to school

When 10-year-old Anas Hajajleh goes back to school this fall, the journey will take him half an hour. Before the expansion of the West Bank Barrier cut him off from the UNRWA school in his village, Al Walaja, it took him five minutes. Still, Anas is happy to be seeing his teachers and his friends again, and not willing to let the opportunity of an education pass him by. Watch Anas talk about his experience.


10-year-old Mayad Hmeed talks about going back to school in Gaza

Meet Mayad Hmeed. She is 10 years old and eager to begin sixth grade at the UNRWA Al-Shate` School in Gaza City. She is eager to see her friends again and remind her fellow students to continue their studies despite all the challenges.


7-year-old Kinan Hendi talks about going back to school

Kinan Murad Mohammad Hendi, a 7-year-old who lives in Amman New Camp [Wihdat], knows that going back to school this fall is important. He is eager to begin the second grade, with the opportunity to read, study and learn to understand the world around him.


In Jordan, Palestine refugee children from Syria find hope

Fourteen-year-old Rawan, a Palestine refugee from Syria, is determined to master English, the language students learn in Jordan. Along with two of her siblings - Rawad, 10, and Khaled, 6 - Rawan is among the 202 Palestine refugees from Syria who will attend UNRWA schools in Irbid this fall.

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