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Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Inaugurates Renovated School in Beddawi Camp
Today, the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, inaugurated the renovated UNRWA Ramleh school premises for Palestine refugee children in Beddawi camp, North Lebanon. The ceremony was attended by students, teachers and representatives from the local Palestinian community including the popular committees.
The EU-funded project “Healthy Living, Healthy Spaces” included renovation works in the playground, as well as murals to decorate the walls of the playground. Earlier this month, the European Union announced that it was making available EUR 82 million of previously pledged funds to the 2018 UNRWA operating budget on the margins of the extraordinary UNRWA Ministerial Conference in Rome.
EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn said, ''Together with the Member States, the European Union is the largest donor to UNRWA in the region and in Lebanon. UNRWA is an important stabilising factor in the region and is essential to provide basic services like education and health care for the most vulnerable. The EU is and will remain a staunch and reliable supporter of UNRWA, both politically and financially. My presence here in Beddawi today is to reaffirm this. But services have to aim at achieving more and better results and in a more cost-effective way.''
Speaking at the event in Beddawi, the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone, thanked the European Union for its constant support. “The EU’s generous and stable financial contribution to UNRWA activities is all the more appreciated by the Agency and the community it serves at this particularly difficult time.”
Following the inauguration ceremony, Commissioner Hahn visited the UNRWA Kawkab-Battouf school, which was also recently rehabilitated with the support of the European Union.
He then met young Palestine refugees in the camp and discussed with them the challenges they face at many levels and about their aspirations including regarding their professional life.
Apart from its contribution to the Agency's programme budget, the European Union is financing UNRWA projects in different areas such as education, health, shelter and infrastructure rehabilitation, and the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared. The European Union Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syria Crisis is also supporting the Agency in providing some 32,610 Palestine refugees from Syria with education and protection services and subsistence cash assistance.
EU and UNRWA: Together for Palestine Refugees
Since 1971, the European Union and UNRWA have maintained 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. Today, 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 core services to more than 5 million Palestine refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, including quality education for roughly half a million children and primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients. Collectively, the EU and its Member States are also among the largest contributors to the Agency’s humanitarian emergency appeals and projects in response to various crises and specific needs across the region. The partnership between the European Union and UNRWA 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.
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.
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