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Belgium contributes EUR 3.5 million in support of the education of Palestine refugee children during times of emergencies
The Kingdom of Belgium has contributed an additional EUR 3.5 million towards the Education in Emergencies Programme of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for the period October 2021-October 2022. The project entitled “Education in Emergencies for Palestine refugee children – Phase III” will address the most urgent education and psychosocial needs of more than 370,000 UNRWA students affected by crisis, instability, conflict, or poverty in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the Agency’s five fields of operation.
The funding will be used to support access to education through the provision of school transportation support to more than 600 students who otherwise have to walk long distances, often through unsafe neighborhoods and on dangerous roads in the Gaza Strip and Syria. Stationery will be purchased and distributed to more than 370,000 Palestine refugee children affected by poverty or loss of belongings due to conflict or displacement; unaddressed, such conditions can constitute barriers that often lead to school drop-out. Close to 400 students will also benefit from appropriate assistive devices to help them cope with disabilities that otherwise limit their access to education. With safety of learning remaining of great concern to the Agency, the project will also contribute towards updating UNRWA school risk assessments in about 50 schools and rehabilitating some 129 schools across the Agency. Finally, UNRWA students will also benefit from psychosocial support to help them cope with stress and trauma, including loss and grief. This will be done through the deployment of school counsellors, the procurement of recreational materials, and the improvement and refurbishing of some 40 dedicated recreational spaces, among others, to ensure participation in recreational activities and counselling sessions for students in need.
The current project is a continuation of Phases I and II of the programme entitled “Education in Emergencies for Palestine refugee children” that were supported by the Government of Belgium with EUR 9.35 million during the period July 2016 – June 2021. The contribution has been essential for strengthening the UNRWA Education in Emergencies response capacity, as well as for enabling close to half a million Palestine refugee students to continue to benefit from safe, quality, inclusive and equitable education and psychosocial support during overlapping crises and conflict. These include the COVID-19 pandemic; the blast in Beirut of 2020 and exacerbating socio-economic and political conditions in Lebanon; the escalation in hostilities that led to airstrikes on Gaza and clashes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in May 2021; poverty and hardship in Jordan; and the continuing crisis in Syria.
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 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Thousands of Palestine refugees who lost both their homes and livelihood because of the 1948 conflict have remained displaced and in need of significant support for over seventy years. UNRWA helps them achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.
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