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UNRWA Advisory Commission members visit West Bank field
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Advisory Commission (AdCom) conducted a field visit to the West Bank (WB) Field on 1 and 2 June for (AdCom) members and other donor representatives. Visiting different camps and refugee communities, the delegation was briefed on protection concerns of refugees in WB and the Agency's role in responding to this situation. The visit included tours of UNRWA facilities to show the delegation the key programme developments in relation to the Medium Term Strategy (MTS).
While visiting the camps of Jalazone and Aida, the delegation met with youth group and school parliament members who explained their camps protection concerns arising their proximity to the barrier and settlement. This leads to almost daily confrontations between Israeli Security forces (ISF) and Palestinians and has created an environment of violence and fear. The delegation was shown how this situation affects youth development and how UNRWA provides youth and children with psycho-social support and other services to overcome this crisis through its programmes.
The visit also highlighted the work UNRWA has done to protect and advocate for the rights of Palestine refugees affected by the protection concern of settlement expansion. This concern was reflected in the delegation’s visit to the church and Biet Al-Barakeh building next to Al-Arroub camp in the southern WB. This building, which is inhabited by a refugee family, was allegedly sold to a settler association, threatening the existence of the family’s home. It was shown how settlement expansion strategically transforms WB and impacts the two state solution.
The home demolitions suffered by Bedouin communities, and the negative impact of these demolitions, including lack of economic opportunities, loss of livelihoods, and psychological trauma of children, were reflected in the visit to Um Al Khayr Bedouin refugee community in the Southern Hebron Hills east of the Israeli settlement of Karmel. The Agency's role in supporting children suffering from psychological trauma was highlighted within this challenging context.
The delegation visited Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and beneficiaries benefiting from UNRWA income generating projects. They also met with representatives of refugees to discuss the collaboration and partnership between UNRWA and CBOs and the Agency’s support for CBOs through its programmes.
The Agency‘s educational achievements, reforms and changes made in the vocational training curriculum were reflected in the delegation’s visit to Kalandia Training center and UNRWA Qalqilia school for boys.
The Director of UNRWA Operations in WB, Scott Anderson said: “The visit of our donors provide an excellent opportunity to show them the positive impact of their generous support to UNRWA and its programmes and to highlight the protection concerns that exist in the West Bank.”
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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