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UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini Concludes Visit to the Gaza Strip
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“I have just completed a visit to Gaza where I met with Palestine refugees who continue to be impacted by a harsh socioeconomic environment and who struggle to recover from repeated conflict over the years.
“Together with the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, Thomas White, I visited the Al Quastal housing project near Deir Al-Balah aimed at addressing the overcrowding and the substandard living conditions of Palestine Refugees. I met the Qweeta family who said that moving into these new houses was like a dream come true. This project has been made possible thanks to the strong support of Germany, funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the German development bank, KfW.
“I also visited the Tel al-Hawa Girls’ School. It was heartwarming to witness firsthand quality and innovative education at our schools where we have just welcomed over 294,000 Palestine refugee children at the 278 UNRWA schools.
“In Gaza and wherever we operate, UNRWA seeks to achieve the highest quality of education for Palestine refugee children. To this end, and in addition to psychosocial support, we are increasingly rolling out online material, digital devices and improved connectivity. This is in line with the Agency’s approach to modernization including on digitization of our health and social services I also discussed plans to catch up the learning losses witnessed under COVID-19.
“With gargantuan challenges ahead of us and a deepening financial crisis, I will continue to spare no effort to carry the voices of Palestine refugees in Gaza to the world. I will continue to work with a most dedicated team to provide services to Palestine refugees and advocate for their rights in Gaza and elsewhere in the region.”
“Next week, at the “Transforming Education Summit” I will highlight the critical role that UNRWA plays in helping children overcome challenges in education. I will also share our modernization plan to ensure that all girls and boys in UNRWA schools can actively and critically engage with digital technology.”
- ENDS -
Notes to Editors
- Four in five people in the Gaza Strip are refugees.
- More than 80 per cent live in poverty depending on humanitarian aid mainly from UNRWA.
- Prices of basic food items and fuel have exponentially increased in line with the global context and the crisis in Ukraine.
- Gaza is home to the highest rates of unemployment among young people in the world.
- Rounds of violence and conflict continue to impact people’s lives. Just last August when violence escalated, 49 Palestinians, including 17 children and four women, were killed.
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.
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