Nine new classrooms for refugee students in Lebanon with Swiss donation

07 March 2012

Beirut, Lebanon

Palestine refugee children in Lebanon will have more space for learning this year, thanks to a USD 546,259 donation from the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC). The voluntary contribution from the Swiss government to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has built nine new classrooms, a playground, and a cafeteria at Ein Al Assal school in the Rashidieh refugee camp.

At the opening ceremony for the school’s expanded facilities, Swiss Ambassador to Lebanon Her Excellency Ruth Flint said, “The SDC piloted this model with UNRWA to set an example and to trigger interest from other donors, so that other camps can enjoy such facilities.”

Also attending the inauguration were the Head of SDC Lebanon Mrs. Heba Hage Felder, Mr. Ibrahim Abou Khalil representing the President of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, a representative of the Embassy of Palestine in Lebanon, and Salvatore Lombardo, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, as well as representatives of the Palestinian community.

“Having a healthier environment is key to quality education,” Lombardo said. “Thanks to this generous contribution from the SDC, this will now be available to these students. This donation also shows Switzerland’s longstanding and firm commitment to Palestine refugees in Lebanon.”

In addition to the school expansion, the SDC funded a new water project worth USD 2.62 million to will enable UNRWA to provide a network of clean drinking water for 70,000 Palestine refugees residing in seven camps throughout Lebanon. The SDC also funds three employment service centres in Lebanon to boost employment prospects for refugees.

Background Information

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, and microfinance.

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 (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 100 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications & Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724