UNRWA and British Council sign landmark cooperation agreement to support Palestine refugee students

06 June 2022
UNRWA Commissioner-General Phillipe Lazzarini (center left) and Chief Executive of the British Council, Scott McDonald (center right) shake hands after they signed a cooperation agreement in Amman on 6 June 2022.  © 2022 UNRWA Photo by Dima Ismail

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the British Council cemented their longstanding partnerships through a cooperation agreement signed in Amman today.  The agreement, signed between the Chief Executive of the British Council, Scott McDonald, and UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini, is an acknowledgment of a decade-long partnership that helps bolster the Agency’s education programme to the benefit of over half a million Palestine refugee students in the region.

“In the last two years, 80 UNRWA schools were winners of the British Council’s International School Award, and many more schools before that,” said Philippe Lazzarini.  “The Agency is innately proud of its students and teaching staff across the region, whose talent, skills and critical thinking can greatly benefit from this cooperation. As educators worldwide discuss the benefits and challenges of online learning, UNRWA is pioneering with a digital learning programme that will protect students from disruptions in case of crises. Lessons learnt from conflicts and COVID-19 closures helped shape the Agency’s approach.”

The UNRWA-British Council agreement includes the Global Schools Programme, which helps build the capacity of teachers and connects local issues to global ones, including climate change, gender equality, and the use of information technology in education. The agreement provides an opportunity to expand the Agency’s English-language programme in schools in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Scott McDonald, Chief Executive British Council, said: “This long-standing partnership has been imperative in creating educational and professional development opportunities for young people. In a fast-changing world, it is essential to equip and provide access to develop, grow and adapt. I am certain that this synergy between our organisations will foster new development and excellence in the English language, help tackle challenges and build the capacity of teachers and young people, reiterating our commitment to build connections, understanding and trust between people of the UK and countries in the Levant.”

Background Information: 

British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.



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