Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs (center) during his visit to an installation run by UNRWA in Jerash Palestine refugee camp, Jordan. (2021 UNRWA Photo by Lubna Hashem)
The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marc Garneau, paid a landmark visit to an installation run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Jerash Palestine refugee camp, Jordan.
Garneau was accompanied by the Ambassador of Canada to Jordan, Donica Pottie, UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Leni Stenseth and the Officer-in-Charge of UNRWA Affairs in Jordan, Olaf Becker.
While at the UNRWA Jerash Preparatory Girls’ School, the delegation was briefed on the situation of Palestine refugees in Jordan, specifically on the vulnerabilities of Ex-Gazans and Palestine refugees from Syria, as well as recent developments on UNRWA operations in Jordan and across the region.
Further, discussions centered around how UNRWA has contributed to regional stability and the human development of the Palestine refugees over the past seven decades.
The delegation was also briefed on the financial challenges facing the Agency, the impact of COVID-19 on UNRWA operations, the strategies employed to mitigate them to ensure continued service delivery to Palestine refugees, and how the Agency upholds UN values in all its activities.
After the walk in the camp, the delegation met with a Palestine refugee family. They highlighted the challenges they faced given the strained economic situation, which has been further impacted by COVID-19 closures, as well as the support received from UNRWA.
Ambassador Pottie noted, “The visit was an opportunity to hear first-hand about the challenges facing residents of Jerash Camp and to speak to youth who are showing great maturity as they study towards their future careers”.
UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Stenseth, expressed her gratitude for Canada's support to Palestine refugees and UNRWA, and said: “I would like to thank the Government of Canada for their steadfast political and financial support to Palestine refugees and the Agency. We deeply appreciate the strategic cooperation that UNRWA and the Government of Canada have developed over the past years, which has been vital to maintaining key services and programmes for Palestine refugee families and communities."
The visit concluded with a meeting with Palestine refugee youth studying in UNRWA vocational training centres (VTCs), where students shared their personal stories, challenges with learning during the pandemic and their future aspirations.
Canada is a top ten donor to UNRWA, helping to meet basic education, health, and livelihood needs, as well as funding to emergency appeals. In 2020, Canada and UNRWA signed a multi-year agreement worth CAD 75 million for the Programme Budget and another three-year agreement for the Syrian Regional Emergency Appeal worth CAD 15 million. In addition, Canada pledged CAD 1.5 million for the COVID-19 Appeal in 2020 and CAD 4 million to the oPt Flash Appeal in May 2021.