UNRWA premises in Syria sustained massive destruction in the conflict, affecting access to education for Palestinian refugee schoolchildren. (File photo via UNRWA)
The Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) has contributed US$13.4 million towards the education programme of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Syria.
UNRWA said in a press release issued on Wednesday that the contribution is part of an overall US$ 20.7 million agreement with QFFD, signed in December 2019, to support the Agency’s human development services of education, health, and technical and vocational education. The support will reach up to 438,000 registered Palestine refugees in Syria.
Ten years of conflict in Syria continue to have dramatic consequences for the people living in the country, and Palestine refugees in particular. It has also had disastrous consequences on educational services in Syria with many school facilities, including those of UNRWA, destroyed and children experiencing displacement and educational disruption. In 2013, the number of Palestine refugee students enrolled in UNRWA schools dropped dramatically – from 67,242 before the war, to 21,962 students, with 70 per cent of UNRWA schools in Syria deemed to be inoperative.
“The generous support of QFFD is key to our ability to continue providing safe and quality education to refugee students,” said the UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.
Despite the protracted conflict, today UNRWA provides education to 50,249 Palestine refugee children in Syria through its 102 schools and the Education in Emergencies (EIE) interventions, including the implementation of recreational activities to support students’ wellbeing.
Underlining the concern of QFFD for the education of Palestine refugees, Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari, Director General of QFFD, said: “We are proud of this partnership with our strategic partner UNRWA, as the project will help to ensure that Palestine refugee students in Syria receive the right education.”
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.