OVERCOMING UNIMAGINABLE ODDS TO CONTINUE THEIR EDUCATION, YARMOUK STUDENTS COMPLETE THEIR NATIONAL EXAMS
01 June 2015
Palestine refugee students have been returning to the besieged refugee camp of Yarmouk, Damascus, after spent the past two weeks taking national exams outside the camp. A total of 152 ninth grade students were involved.
“I am looking forward to returning to Yarmouk to see my family. I have been here for two weeks but it feels like a year away from them,” said Khaled, who is among those who returned to the camp on 31 May.
For the past two weeks, with the support of the UNRWA and the Syrian General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR), 152 students from Yarmouk boarded at the UNRWA Palestine School and the GAPAR-run Said al-Ass Institute in Alliance, Damascus. UNRWA teachers volunteered to prepare the students to sit for their national exams while counsellors ran psychosocial support sessions.
Yarmouk stands as a symbol of the extreme civilian suffering in the ongoing conflict in Syria. Residents have had limited access to food, water, electricity and social services for two years. Yet despite these harrowing circumstances, education remains one of the greatest priority for the Palestine refugee community in Yarmouk.
“Our students’ tenacity is a testament to the resilience of the Palestine refugee community in Yarmouk, who continue to prioritize education despite devastating circumstances,” said UNRWA Director in Syria Michael Kingsley-Nyinah. “Education remains a critical source of hope for civilians living though immense trauma.”
UNRWA is seeking an immediate injection of US$ 30 million to provide life-sustaining assistance to the 18,000 civilians from Yarmouk, including 3,500 children, and those affected by conflict and displacement in other areas. The UNRWA Syria Crisis Appeal provides critical humanitarian support to 480,000 Palestine refugees throughout Syria and to those displaced to Lebanon and Jordan.
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 more than US$ 106 million.
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