Thanks to donations from the United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and State of Kuwait, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) declare the 2015/16 UNRWA school year open.
UNRWA's Commissioner-General, Pierre Krahenbuhl, said, 'Students will return to school according to plan in Palestine on 24 August, in Jordan on 1 September, in Lebanon on 7 September and in Syria on 13 September.' 'I have taken this decision first and foremost because of how central education is to the identity and dignity of Palestine refugees and of the 500,000 boys and girls whose future depends on learning and developing skills in our 685 schools. It is on the benches and behind the desks of UNRWA classrooms that millions of Palestine refugees, deprived for so long of a just and lasting solution, have built the capabilities and shaped the determination that enabled them to become actors of their own destinies.
The total amount of contributions received to date against the deficit of US$ 101 million is US$ 78.9 million.. In addition to this, we welcome the efforts by the European Union to mobilise additional means in a few weeks' time and look forward to a positive decision. We note that two other countries are still seriously considering making their own donations. . While some significant work therefore remains, I consider that we have achieved our first objective and can open the schools.
'We express profound appreciation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the State of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates – whose remarkable combined contributions cover almost half of the 2015 deficit – and to the United States of America, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and the Slovak Republic, who have together contributed generously to help address the funding shortfall,' he said.
'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 our core budget. But it almost did. For this reason we fought very hard to create a revival of solidarity for Palestine refugees and a renewed understanding of the importance of respecting their rights and addressing their needs adequately and predictably.' UNRWA will participate in a series of important meetings with its partners, for example at ministerial-level meetings in September of the League of Arab States and at the United Nations General Assembly, to identify concrete ways to improve our future financial stability.