86 University Students Graduate with the Support of the European Union

17 September 2018
A graduate poses for a photo with Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone, and the Ambassador of European Union in Lebanon, Christina Lassen. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Jesse Thompson

Today, the European Union and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) celebrated the university graduation of 86 students. The graduating students were all recipients of scholarships from the European Union and attended universities in Lebanon.

The graduation ceremony was held in Beirut in the presence of the European Union Ambassador to Lebanon, Christina Lassen, the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone, the representative of the Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon, Mr. Maher Meshayel, along with members of the UNRWA Scholarship Advisory Committee and staff and students from the participating Lebanese universities.

Since 2005, the European Union has contributed approximately EUR 12.5 million to support more than 600 beneficiaries through the UNRWA scholarships program. Currently, 6.2 per cent of Palestine refugees residing in Lebanon hold university degrees. The EU-funded scholarships enable many young Palestine refugees in Lebanon to attend university where they can learn about a broad range of disciplines such as science, engineering, social and economic sciences, and liberal arts.

The scholarship program helps to empower young Palestine refugees who reside in Lebanon by providing them with high quality university education to broaden up their future professional and social opportunities. Past students who graduated with the scholarship program have found employment in Lebanon and abroad.

''You are in many ways an example and role models for the youth of your communities. I sincerely congratulate you for this major milestone'', Ambassador Lassen said.

Regarding the difficult situation the Palestine refugee community is passing through, the EU Ambassador said that ''support to UNRWA and the Palestine communities is not only financial, it is also political''. "I assure you that our support remains clear and firm."

Mr. Cordone congratulated the students and said: “We have successfully helped generations of Palestine refugees realize their human potential in very difficult circumstances. We are very proud of our alumni, many of whom went on to become successful entrepreneurs, civil servants, academics and community leaders”. 

Mr. Meshayel thanked the European Union which has been providing scholarships to Palestine refugee students in Lebanon.

Expressing her gratitude to the European Union and the UNRWA Scholarships Programme, Kafa Khalil, one of the graduates said: “Our success is your success, for you have given us the courage to excel and the belief that we can achieve our best. Investing in Education is an investment in a stable future.  Therefore, I hope the same opportunity to be provided to other students who have strong willingness to continue their studies and to have better future but they lack the resources.”

EU and UNRWA: Together for Palestine Refugees

The European Union and UNRWA have a strategic partnership governed by the shared objective to support the human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestine refugees and promote stability in the Middle East. The European Union is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. This reliable and predictable support from the European Union enables UNRWA to provide daily quality education for roughly half a million children and primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. This has allowed millions of Palestine refugees to be better educated, live healthier lives, access employment opportunities and improve their living conditions, thus contributing to the development of the entire region.

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 5.4 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:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Huda Samra
Communications Advisor – Lebanon (Arabic and Francophone)
+961 81 666 134
UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
Join the #DignityIsPriceless campaign to stand up #ForPalestineRefugees