UNRWA Commissioner General Intervention, Transforming Education Summit

19 September 2022
UNRWA Commissioner General Intervention, Transforming Education Summit © Theirworld / Ilya Savenok

New York. 

Last year, I met with Maria, a 15-year-old Palestine refugee living in Ein el Helweh camp in Lebanon.

She shared with enthusiasm her dream to study at Oxford.

Unexpectedly, she broke down in tears.

Maria explained that she had four siblings and only one smart phone in the family with limited access to the internet.

She realized her dream to study at Oxford might just remain a dream without access to digital learning.

For Maria, and for the half a million girls and boys attending UNRWA schools, we – Member States and the private sector- must continue to provide a sense of purpose and hope.  

This is especially true in the absence of a political solution to the conflict.

UNRWA is the only UN agency that runs an entire school system.  

We do so throughout emergencies including conflicts and pandemics.  

Our education contributes to security and stability across the Middle East. 

To make learning more accessible and relevant for every student, we are committed to using modern tools.  

We aim to equip students with the skills they need to join the job markets of tomorrow.  

Our Digital Learning Platform has already become a recognized best practice. 

I remain committed to sharing our expertise with the global education community aiming to reach people on the move. 

It is expertise that the World Bank, UNESCO, the British Council and other experts regularly praise. 

Thank you.

Background Information: 

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.7 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+962 (0)79 090 0140
Juliette Touma
UNRWA Director of Communications
Mobile: 
+972 54240 2753
Office: 
+962-79-867-4628