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UNRWA shares experience in combatting the vulnerability of Palestine refugee youth at Sharjah refugee child protection conference
UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Margot Ellis has highlighted the dire situation of Palestine refugee children and youth region-wide. “Already vulnerable as refugees, occupation and conflict increasingly deprive Palestine youth of basic rights and protection,” Ms. Ellis said.
Ms. Ellis was speaking as part of a high-level panel at ‘Investing in the Future’, the first conference on protecting refugee children in the Middle East and North Africa. The event was co-hosted by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It also featured Queen Rania of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Nabil al-Araby of the Arab League.
Ms. Ellis cited 65 years of UNRWA experience contributing to protection, explaining that the Agency’s focus on maintaining the stability of families through regular services, such as education and health, is critical to the well-being and protection of children, particularly during conflict. Despite enormous challenges posed by conflict, UNRWA has largely maintained education services across war-torn Syria and Gaza, including through the use of innovative distance learning materials and satellite television programming for children who are unable to reach schools.
Ensuring that youth have the space to define their own lives is a powerful way to promote protection, Ms. Ellis said. “Their voice and vision transcend political agendas, silencing senseless violence and destruction,” she said. The new UNRWA youth voice and education project, ‘My Voice My School’ links conflict-affected youth in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan with their peers in the United Kingdom and helps students understand the impact their voice can have on their own lives.
The ‘Investing in the Future’ conference aimed to raise awareness of the acute state of child protection issues in the Middle East and North Africa and seek practical solutions to these problems.
Click here to read the Deputy Commissioner-General's full remarks.
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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