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UNRWA and Islamic Relief Canada project brings hope and support to injured refugee students
For the first time, UNRWA, with funds from Islamic Relief Canada, has launched a project that provides special educational and psychological support to injured refugee students at UNRWA schools, and if necessary at their homes, across the Gaza Strip. The ‘supporting students in Gaza after the summer 2014 hostilities’ project, worth approximately US$1 million, started in November 2014 and will run for fourteen months. Six workshops on inclusive education are currently being held all across Gaza with a total of 77 subject teachers, 54 special education needs teachers as well as 6 project coordinators attending.
“Providing support to injured and disabled students at UNRWA schools to receive education is a persistent necessity that will help them reintegrate in school and society. Through the project we are able to look after the students not only in schools, but also at their homes and in hospitals,” commented Mr Shaher Yaghi, a quality assurance coordinator at UNRWA’s Education Department, during a training session with 25 subject and rehabilitation teachers at the Jabalia Preparatory Girls School "A" in northern Gaza. “In addition, the project does not focus only on education, but also on providing psychological consultations as well as health care and assistive devices such as wheel chairs or glasses to families who cannot afford these for their children,” he added.
An estimated 853 UNRWA students were injured during the summer hostilities of 2014.While some of them are coping with temporary injuries, others will live the rest of their lives with permanent disabilities. The UNRWA project also includes home education by teachers to a few students whose injuries are hindering them from attending school at all.
After the completion of the workshops the participants will go back to their UNRWA schools and pass their knowledge to their colleagues in peer to peer training sessions.
“Training on inclusive education is very essential for us as special needs teachers; it facilitates our mission on dealing with injured students. Back at school, we will be leading the other teachers to implement what we have learned here during this training,” remarked Ms. Maisa Qudas, who participated in the training in Jabalia. Her co-attendee, Mr. Shadi Abu Hajaj, agrees, “Addressing the needs of these particular students is crucial, but also very difficult. This training prepares us for this challenge and enhances our skills.”
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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