UNRWA inaugurates new school in Dera’a refugee camp

12 February 2020
Palestine refugee students perform a folklore dance in celebration of the inauguration of their new school in Dera'a refugee camp, Syria. © 2020

On 12 February, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) inaugurated the newly reconstructed UNRWA Al-Safsaf School in Dera’a refugee camp, southern Syria. Celebrations included a recognition ceremony for Tawjihi high achievers.

Completely destroyed by conflict in 2012, the school was rebuilt and equipped with a generous contribution from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD).

The newly constructed two story-building is now equipped with 10 classrooms, an administration and teachers’ rooms, as well as two storage rooms. The school now provides a safe school environment for some 750 Palestine refugee students.

The inauguration was attended by the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria, Mr. Amanya Michael-Ebye, the Deputy Director of UNRWA Affairs Operations & Support, Mr. Ram Trivedi, the Deputy Governor of Dera’a, Mr. Abdoh Abu Khashreef and the Director-General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR), Mr. Ali Mustafa. Also in attendance was UNRWA staff and representatives of the local community.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Mr. Amanya said, “This new school provides better access to quality education and learning opportunities for Palestine refugee children in the camp. The inauguration of this school reaffirms the Agency’s commitment to provide quality education to Palestine refugee children. It stands as a beacon to everybody that education of Palestine refugee children is a priority for UNRWA.  It is very special moving and significant that we are able to help Palestine refugee students and their families stabilize their shattered lives by providing a safe learning environment.”

During the conflict the students attended classes in apartments provided by GAPAR and the local community members. This ensured that students were provided with an uninterrupted schooling schedule, despite their challenging surrounding environment.

Underscoring the cooperation between the Governorate of Dera’a, UNRWA and the local community, Mr. Abdoh Abu Khashreef said, “We in the Governorate are ready to cooperate with UNRWA in support of Palestine refugees. We will not hesitate to provide services to Dera’a camp within our Governorate’s available resources.”

Mr. Mustafa, thanked UNRWA and the Syrian Arab Republic for their continued and generous support to Palestine refugees. “Syria has relentlessly stood by Palestine refugees, with great attention to health, education and other services,” he said.

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Dera’a Camp Background

Dera'a refugee camp is located inside Dera’a City, in southern Syria. Palestinian refugees came to the Dera’a area in two waves in 1948 and in 1967. Dera’a camp was home to 10,500 Palestine refugees before 2011. Dera’a camp and its surroundings returned to government control in the summer of 2018. The camp is now largely destroyed. UNRWA was able to return to Dera’a camp in November 2018 to conduct a needs assessment.  Inside Dera’a camp, all premises including three school buildings and a clinic need substantial repairs or complete rebuilding.

As of February 2020, some 770 Palestine refugee families have returned to their homes.

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 5.4 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.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Hala Mukhles
Public Information Officer - Syria Field Office
+ 963 (0) 940 88103
+ 963 (0) 940 88103