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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
24 November 2005

Press Release No. S/04/2005
24 November 2005

UNRWA Commissioner-General Visits Syria

UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd visited Syria November 21-24, and met with the Syrian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Dr Abdullah Dardrai, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Farouk al-Shara'a, the Minister of Labour & Social Affairs, Dr Dyala Haj ‘Aref and the Director-General of the General Authority for Palestine Arab Refugees, Ali Mustafa. AbuZayd briefed Syrian Government officials about the developments taking place in UNRWA, highlighting Syria’s constructive role in supporting the Palestine refugees. “The continuing generosity of the Syrian Government is vital to enable UNRWA to carry out its mission”, said AbuZayd.

The Commissioner-General also briefed Damascus-based ambassadors and diplomats representing the Agency’s major donors on developments since the June 2004 Geneva Conference “Building Partnerships in Support of UNRWA”.

AbuZayd met with the Agency’s area staff representatives and voiced her appreciation for their devotion to duty. “It is essential that UNRWA remain a united family serving the common goal of assisting Palestine refugees. It is the staff who make UNRWA what it is, and the value of any organization comes from the value of its staff”, she said.

Addressing the refugee community in Jaramana Camp, AbuZayd underlined the significance of the Agency’s continued services to more than 400,000 Palestine refugees in Syria “until a just and lasting solution to their problem is reached.” AbuZayd added: “The Agency will continue to improve the living conditions of Palestine refugees without prejudice to their rights.”

In meeting with the media, the Commissioner-General said that UNRWA has been able to make an essential contribution to the well-being of the refugees through the support of the international community and the host governments.

AbuZayd was briefed on the Khan Dannoun/Khan Eshieh water and sewage networks funded by the European Union, and met UNRWA staff at the Agency’s Damascus Field Office and Training Centre. Filippo Grandi, who joined the Agency on 17 October 2005 as Deputy Commissioner-General, accompanied AbuZayd during her visit. In 2000 Ms AbuZayd was appointed UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General, a position she held until June 2005 when she was appointed UNRWA Commissioner-General.

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, is a humanitarian relief and development agency, providing education, health care and social services and emergency relief to over four million registered refugees living in the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jordan and Lebanon.

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