UNRWA celebrates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in the West Bank

16 December 2016
© 2016 UNRWA Photo by Riham Jafari

On 7 December, on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) organized an awareness-raising activity for Palestine refugee children with mental disabilities and their parents in Jericho, in the Jordan valley of the West Bank.

Throughout the day, more than 300 Palestine refugee children with mental disabilities attended sports games and recreational activities, while their parents attended awareness-raising activities on how to empower their children to become active members in their society.

The activities were followed by speeches delivered by the Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Scott Anderson, and representatives of the different attending partners.

The event was organized in cooperation with the Palestinian Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE), as well as other national and international partners, including community-based rehabilitation centres (CBRCs), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR).

The activities aimed to highlight this year’s theme for IDPD, ‘Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want’. This theme notes the recent adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role of these goals in building a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Anderson said, “Persons with disabilities are among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups. Through our programmes, UNRWA works to promote, rehabilitate and equalize opportunities for persons with disabilities and increase their inclusion and full participation in the community.”

Mr. Anderson added: “By being here today, you are all supporting our efforts to raise awareness on disability issues and to draw attention to the benefits of integrating persons with disabilities in every aspect of life.”

The Agency’s work with persons with disabilities emphasizes a multisectoral approach through the strengthening of systematic process for coordination between UNRWA programmes internally, as well as with local partners and ministries.

The UNRWA disability programme has been operational for more than 25 years, partnering with more than 15 local rehabilitation committees located in different refugee camps in the West Bank.

So far this year, the UNRWA West Bank Field Office has assisted more than 4,000 refugees with disabilities and their families by rehabilitating their homes, providing them with aid tools and vocational training, and referring them to specialized institutions.

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 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank 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
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0724