UNRWA Damascus Training Centre students aiming high – an exhibition of hope

21 December 2021
Students present their projects to guests, including Mr. Amanya Michael-Ebye, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria, Ms. Yngvild Berggrav, Chargé d’Affaires at the Norwegian Embassy in Damascus and Mr. Aslak Heldal, First Secretary, Ms. Ramleh al-Khalidi, UNDP Resident Representative in Syria and Mr. Hazem Abdulhafeez of al-Karim for Trade and Industry, at the UNRWA Damascus Training Centre Open Day in Damascus, Syria. © 2021 UNRWA Photo

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Damascus Training Centre (DTC) celebrated the opening of an interactive exhibition. Featuring the work of DTC students, the exhibition showcased their inspiring achievements and aspirations.

Under the slogan “My Steps Towards My Future”, students presented a variety of projects to their families, the local community, DTC faculty, UNRWA management and a visiting diplomatic delegation from Norway.  Ms. Yngvild Berggrav, Chargé d’Affaires of the Norwegian Embassy in Syria, and Mr. Aslak Heldal, the Embassy’s First Secretary, were accompanied by Ms. Ramleh al-Khalidi, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Syria, Mr. Hazem Abdulhafeez of al-Karim for Trade and Industry and a number of private sector employers. 

In his remarks at the launch of the exhibition, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria, Mr. Amanya Michael-Ebye, said: “UNRWA technical and vocational education allows us to equip young Palestine refugees with the skills and confidence they need to build their future. They have spent their childhood and youth in conflict and now face the additional hardship caused by the COVID-19 public health crisis and rapidly deteriorating socio-economic situation. Our TVET courses mean hope and life for them. An amazing 80.8 per cent of our students gain employment after graduating.  Throughout the day, the trainees imparted their creative skills and innovative thinking and showcased their outstanding talents and wide array of skills through the products they designed to inspire exhibition visitors."

He underlined that investing in youth means investing in the future of an entire generation. "Modernization is a key. We have continuously adapted and innovated our courses to meet the needs of Syrian business and industry to increase employability and to make sure the young graduates have the skills to respond to the most urgent needs of their communities," Mr. Michael-Ebye said. "This has only been possible thanks to the support of our donors and the constructive cooperation with the Syrian government, the private sector and other partners. Thanks to Norway, we are able to implement this open day as part of the equal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics project in UNRWA schools for Palestine refugees in Syria. Launched in December 2019, the project has substantively contributed to the Agency’s TVET and education programming.”

Mr. Michael-Ebye also expressed his gratitude to UNDP and said: "This partnership makes us stronger. With combined forces, we are able to better foster the talents of our young students, including with cash grants to start enterprises."

Ms. Berggrav was delighted to visit the UNRWA training centre, further reaffirming Norway’s steadfast support to the Agency and Palestine refugees in Syria. She commended the students for their resilience and determination to reach high, despite the extremely challenging circumstances.  “Feeling your motivation and your ingenuity and seeing the high quality of your products inspires me. I am deeply impressed by your ambition, your creativity and your courage.”

Ms. Al-Khaldi expressed pride to be part of contributing to the education of Palestine refugee students. "I feel the great importance you and your community attach to education. Nobody can take away your knowledge from you, wherever you go, and this is very precious. Supporting your TVET programme is important to us and has been made possible thanks to UNRWA and the UNDP partnership. We are looking forward to do more to help building a better future for you."

Mr. Hazem Abdul Hafeez, representative of Alkarim for Trade and Industry Company, added: "UNRWA graduates have demonstrated outstanding potentials over years.  Continue to study hard and to benefit from the opportunities that are provided to you. I salute you and your instructors."

The DTC provides a range of one-to two-year professional and semi-professional courses to over 1,400 Palestine students per year. The centre also runs short-term courses for over 800 students geared towards preparing skill laborers for immediate needs of the job market. Since it was established in 1961, more than 22,000 Palestine refugee students have graduated from DTC. The UNRWA vocational and technical training programme plans to increase the courses offered in Aleppo, Homs, Latakia and Dera'a.

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 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Thousands of Palestine refugees who lost both their homes and livelihood because of the 1948 conflict have remained displaced and in need of significant support for over seventy years. UNRWA helps them achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

For more information, please contact:

Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140