UNRWA and Arab League Council of Educational Affairs Hold Annual Meeting in Cairo

27 November 2017
(From Left) Samir Abdelrahim, Chief Field Education Programme in Syria, Bassam Shawa, Chief of Education Programme Coordination, Salem Dib, Chief Field Education Programme in Lebanon, Caroline Pontefract, Director of Education Programme, Farid Abu Athra, Chief Field Education Programme in Gaza, Orouba Al Mousa Chief Field Education Programme in Jordan, and Muaweyah Amar Chief Field Education Programme in the West Bank. © 2017 UNRWA Photo

The twenty-seventh annual meeting of the Council of Educational Affairs of the League of Arab States (Arab League) with the Department of Education of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was held in Cairo, from 19 to 22 November, to discuss the achievements and challenges of the UNRWA education programme. The meeting, held annually in Cairo at the General Secretariat League of Arab States, brings together senior management of the UNRWA education programme, representatives of Palestinian Affairs from countries hosting Palestine refugees and the members of the Arab League. 

During a speech delivered at the opening session of the joint meeting, the Assistant Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Dr. Said Abu Ali, commended UNRWA service to Palestine refugees in its five fields of operations, expressing his appreciation for the efforts exerted by UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Director of Education Dr. Caroline Pontefract, and the management of the UNRWA education programmes in the Agency's five fields of operations for ensuring the delivery of quality education for Palestine refugee children across the region.

Dr. Caroline Pontefract thanked the Arab League for this annual opportunity to discuss education and said that despite the challenges UNRWA may be facing, the education programme continues to strive to ensure that the 526,000 Palestine refugee students all have a quality learning experience. Focusing on the achievements of the UNRWA education programme, Dr. Pontefract talked about the work done last year, the plans for the coming year, and provided data on the key elements. The Chiefs of Education from the Agency’s five fields of operations also provided overviews and updates on the education programme in their respective fields, sharing both achievements and challenges.

Members of the Arab League Council expressed their appreciation for the updates and the achievements but articulated concerns about the financial challenges facing the Agency, stressing the importance of ensuring the continuity of education services for Palestine refugee students.

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:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
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