10 December 2012
Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel announced yesterday an additional contribution of EUR 3 million for the construction of two United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools in the Gaza Strip, further demonstrating the strong partnership between the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the UN agency. Accepting the contribution during a ceremony at Tel el Hawa School in Gaza were UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi and Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza Robert Turner.
Speaking during the ceremony, Mr Niebel stated: "The tremendous potential of the large number of young people in Gaza is encouraging, but only if they are to realise this potential. Education is the central prerequisite for development and peace; it gives young people a future and opens up new horizons for them. Unfortunately, schools here in Gaza are chronically over-crowded, most of them operating on both morning and afternoon shifts. I am very glad that today I am able to commit EUR 3 million for the construction of further UNRWA schools."
Welcoming the donation, Mr. Grandi said: “The Government of Germany has been a strong advocate for Palestine refugees through its partnership with UNRWA, and this year the Ministry of Development Cooperation has stepped up to support Agency schools.”
“Overall German contributions to UNRWA this year are at a record high,” Mr. Grandi continued, “and on behalf of those the Agency serves, I would like to express my sincere gratitude.”
“The prevailing climate in the Strip—including the recent military operation, the ongoing blockade, and economic collapse—has put tremendous stress on an already fragile population, with young people especially at risk,” explained Mr. Turner.
“With this latest donation to UNRWA schools, the German Government has demonstrated strong support for education in Gaza—the principle way we work to alleviate the effects of these harsh conditions, and one of the most important human development priorities of all the Agency’s services.”
During the ceremony, Mr. Niebel also announced an additional contribution from the BMZ through the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) of over EUR 200,000 to support the Agency’s community mental health programme in Gaza, which helps mitigate the psychological impact of violence and economic hardship on the refugee population there.
The ceremony at Tel el Hawa concluded two days of visits to UNRWA facilities in the oPt, Mr.Niebel having yesterday visited Balata refugee camp of the northern West Bank accompanied by the Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank Felipe Sanchez.
The Government of Germany is the tenth-largest donor to UNRWA and a member of its Advisory Commission. It increased its annual support for UNRWA this year to a record USD 26 million. Between 2007 and 2011, Germany contributed nearly USD 86 million to UNRWA operations in the occupied Palestinian territory, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
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UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance.
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Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund, supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit.
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