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UNRWA highly values additional United States US$ 15 million contribution to its schools and core programmes
The United States has announced a generous additional contribution of US$ 15 million to the UNRWA General Fund, which will enable the Agency to open its schools on time for the 2015/16 school year. The latest commitment brings the total US contribution to the General Fund in 2015 to US$ 165 million. The United States is the largest bilateral UNRWA donor.
UNRWA announced on Wednesday, 19 August, that students will return to school according to plan at the start of the school year, after months of warnings that a funding shortfall of US$ 101 million to the General Fund meant it risked a delay in the school year at its 685 schools in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
“We are deeply grateful to the United States for this remarkable contribution, which will help ensure that the 500,000 Palestine refugee students who attend UNRWA schools across the region will continue to have access to quality basic education that is so crucial for their development and future prospects,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. “The United States’ continued support and proactive engagement with other partners and donor nations was critical in our efforts to fill the funding gap and start the school year on time.”
Emphasizing the importance of education in the Middle East, US State Department Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration Anne C. Richard said, “Opening the doors of schoolhouses to refugee children isn’t just something that benefits these children – it benefits all of us. No child should be denied an education. This is why the United States is committed to helping provide education to this generation of refugee children in the Middle East.”
This is the second time this year that a US contribution has enabled services and salaries to be paid, allowing UNRWA to continue providing education, health, relief and social services to Palestine refugees. In May, the United States provided an earlier-than-planned contribution of US$ 20 million to cover funding shortfalls that would have adversely impacted the Agency’s capacity to maintain core programmes and service delivery. The United States’ exemplary and long-standing support is highly recognized and valued by UNRWA.
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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