Cutting edge UNRWA IT Hub in Blockaded Gaza Strip

28 March 2022
(From left) UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth and CIO and Director of UNRWA Information Management and Technology Department Kaan Cetinturk meet with a staff member at the relaunch of the UNRWA Information Technology Service Centre (ITSC) at its modernized offices in Gaza today. © 2022 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Hinnawi

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) celebrated the relaunch of the UNRWA Information Technology Service Centre (ITSC) at its modernized offices in Gaza today. UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth, Chief Information Officer and Director of the Information Management and Technology Department, Kaan Cetinturk, Director of Partnerships, Karim Amer, and Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, Thomas White, attended the ceremony.

In line with the Agency’s modernization and innovation strategy, the newly re-opened centre features cutting edge information technology (IT) services and provides efficient IT solutions across the Agency’s five fields of operations, and to United Nations agencies worldwide. Services offered include: web and mobile application development, software quality assurance, UI/UX design, cyber security, cloud computing, data science, project management, and service desk.

"The UNRWA IT Service Centre has become the largest IT employer in Gaza, thus contributing to the livelihood opportunities in the Gaza Strip. The establishment of the Service Centre is also very much in line with the Agency’s strategic goal to modernize and digitally transform its services, business processes, and information management systems. It is very exciting to think of this IT centre as a small Silicon Valley in Gaza!" said Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth.

Having a state-of-the-art IT hub comes in line with the Agency’s aim to empower the digital generation of Palestine refugees in Gaza. “Gaza is full of skilled, educated, and passionate IT graduates. This IT Service Centre has created a huge opportunity to tap into the potential of youth in Gaza and strengthen their capabilities. By investing in the human capital of Palestine refugees, UNRWA actively contributes to the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We need support from all our donors and the private sector to be part of this successful journey,” said Mr. Cetinturk.

Through its partnership with the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC), UNRWA became a provider of IT services to the UNICC technical team. Since the establishment in 2020, the Centre has grown 20 times its original size, with 120 employees today.

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
+962 (0)79 090 0140