UNRWA Commissioner-General ends farewell visit to Syria

30 September 2009


UNRWA Commissioner-General, Karen Koning AbuZayd, made her last official visit to Syria as UNRWA’s Commissioner-General.

"I feel very proud to have served as Commissioner-General of this great organization for the past five years, working towards improving Palestine refugees’ lives" said Ms. AbuZayd earlier in the day. "…and I feel especially grateful to the Syrian people and government for always lending a helpful hand to us".

During her three-day visit, Ms. AbuZayd held meetings with Government’s Ministers. Talks focused on current and future challenges facing the Agency and the Government’s critical role in supporting the Agency’s work.

Ms. AbuZayd singled out Mr. Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees, for "his unwaivering commitment to the rights of Palestine refugees, and for his on-going support to, and genuine interest in UNRWA’s activities, particularly those targeting the most vulnerable members of the community."

In Aleppo on 28 September, Ms. AbuZayd inaugurated the first phase of the Neirab Rehabilitation Project, one of the most ambitious shelter rehabilitation projects undertaken by UNRWA in Syria. This was followed on 29 September with the inauguration of facilities in Sbeineh Camp, financed with donations from the Governments of Germany and the United States, and the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Society, and attendance at the 2009 Global Peace Games for Children and Youth held at the Palestinian Athletics City, Yarmouk.

In a meeting with UNRWA staff, Ms. AbuZayd highlighted her deep appreciation to for all the support given during her term recognizing that UNRWA’s best asset is its human capital.

Karen Koning AbuZayd has served as UNRWA’s Commissioner-General since June 2005 and as its Deputy Commissioner-General from 2000-2005. She will step down at the end of this year.

For information only. Not an official record.

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:

Hala Mukhles
Public Information Officer - Syria Field Office
+ 963 (0) 940 88103
+ 963 (0) 940 88103
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