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UNRWA Students Participate in ReWirED Education Summit at Dubai Expo 2020
Palestine refugee students from United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Centres across the Middle East participated in the RewirEd Global Education Summit from 12-14 December 2021. They were part of a delegation of senior UNRWA education directors and specialists, with the virtual attendance of UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini in the Dubai Expo 2020.
The TVET students from Syria, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and the West Bank, also attended the three-day Dubai Expo 2020. Their attendance allowed them to forge new connections and amplified their call to action for the prioritization of education and learning globally. The students exchanged knowledge and experience with other students from all over the world. For many participating UNRWA refugee students, this was a once in a lifetime experience and for many, this was their first travel out of the host countries they call home.
Focusing her message on the inalienable right to a quality education, UNRWA student Leen Sakher Alfalah from Syria said: “I’m so glad I’m here today to learn and exchange ideas and tools about education with students and senior representatives from all over the world. I am also so glad I am representing UNRWA, where I received most of my education.”
UNRWA student Manar Darweesh, a Palestine refugee living in Gaza, who missed the first two days of the summit due to difficulties in leaving the besieged Strip, said: “I cannot believe I was given this opportunity to travel from Gaza all the way to Dubai and participate in such a big event. It’s like a dream come true to me. Despite all the difficulties I faced and the COVID-19 restrictions, I finally made it. It took me 24 hours of travelling, out of Gaza to Cairo, and from Cairo to Dubai. Thank you UNRWA and Dubai Cares for giving me this chance to attend this educational summit.”
UNRWA Commissioner-General Mr. Philippe Lazzarini delivered a virtual keynote speech on a panel on education in crises. The Chief of the UNRWA Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Programme in Gaza, Dr. Iyad Zaqout, participated and provided insight on the psychosocial and mental health needs of Palestinian refugees in Gaza.
In addition, a plenary session led and moderated by the Acting Director of the UNRWA Education Programme, Mr. Moritz Bilagher, focused on how educational innovation can provide quality education to Palestine refugee children during periods of remote learning. He was accompanied by the UNRWA Chief of TVET and Youth, Ms. Reem Jeibat, who addressed educational innovation in TVET.
UNRWA students were part of a youth contingent that also included students representing the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Norwegian Refugee Council. The contingent participated in training to support young people in effectively participating and developing connections and support them in leading positive change beyond the Summit. UNRWA students also met with Dena Assaf, the UN Resident Coordinator for the United Arab Emirates, and Maher Nasser, the Commissioner-General for the UN at Dubai Expo2020 at the UN Hub.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Lazzarini said: “The UAE has been a steadfast donor; its support has contributed a lot to education. We hope that our partnership with the UAE government and institutions continues to take UNRWA education to Palestine refugees to the next level”. He added: “I express my gratitude to Dubai Cares as a loyal and strategic partner of UNRWA. We thank them for inviting UNRWA representatives and students to take part in this innovative platform to learn and discuss the future of education at the Dubai Expo2020.
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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