UNRWA schools open on time thanks to UAE US$ 15 million donation

31 August 2015
A Palestine refugee student displaced from Syria in class, Ramallah Elementary Coed School, Shatilla Camp, Lebanon. © 2013 UNRWA Photo

The Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has stepped forward with a generous US$ 15 million contribution in support of the critical UNRWA education programme. The pledge comes at a crucial time, as a US$ 101 million funding shortfall had put at risk the start of the school year for the 685 UNRWA schools that serve 500,000 students in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

“Education is a fundamental right for children everywhere in the world, and it should never have come to the point where the UNRWA school year risked being delayed because of a funding shortfall for the core UNRWA budget,” said Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA. “The government of the UAE, through the Ministry of International Cooperation and Development, responded to our call for support with a pledge of US$ 15 million, without which the start of our school year would have been at risk.”

The Commissioner-General added: “So it is with deep appreciation that I thank the people and the government of the UAE on behalf of the half a million boys and girls who will be starting the school year on time. Your generosity and solidarity has made this possible.”

The UAE has long been an important and consistent donor to UNRWA. This latest commitment comes in addition to their annual contribution of US$ 1.8 million to the Agency’s core activities and to the many projects funded by UAE foundations. The UAE is also an actively engaged member of the UNRWA Advisory Commission, of which it became a member in 2014.

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:

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)258 90724
UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
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