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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
10 October 2012

UNRWA celebrates World Teachers' Day in Yarmouk, Syria

10 October 2012, Yarmouk, Syria -- UNRWA this week observed its ongoing education work in Syria with a ceremony in Yarmouk refugee camp, near the capital of Damascus.

Education is UNRWA’s largest programme, accounting for more than half of the Agency’s regular budget. In Syria, UNRWA runs 118 schools, providing nine years of education for more than 66,000 young Palestine refugees.

UNRWA’s education reform strategy, launched this time last year, aims to raise standards in the Agency’s 700 schools throughout the Middle East, as part of its mission to provide long-term human development for Palestine refugee children.

The ongoing conflict in Syria has interrupted the education of many children in Syria, including many Palestine refugee children. In recent months, thousands of civilians have taken shelter in a number of UNRWA school buildings, and a number of UNRWA staff members have fallen victim to the violence.

To combat the obstacle to education and normal school life posed by the violence in Syria, UNRWA’s education programme is developing a set of educational materials that will allow children in the country to study from home.

Announcing the plans at Monday’s event, the Agency’s education chief in Syria, Mohammad Ammouri, said that UNRWA was committed to ensuring that Palestine refugee children in the country receive the best possible chance in life.

UNRWA’s director of operations in Syria, Michael Kingsley-Nyinah, paid tribute to a number of the Agency’s teachers in the country who were retiring after many years of service.

"World Teachers' Day is an opportunity to appreciate the tireless dedication and contribution of teachers to the Palestinian community and to the work of UNRWA”, he said.

“On this occasion, we recognise the huge commitment of UNRWA’s teachers to achieving the goals of quality education".

Kingsley-Nyinah thanked UNRWA’s counterpart in the Syrian government, the General Authority of Palestinian Arab Refugees in Syria (GAPAR), as well as UNRWA partners such as UNICEF, for their strong and continued support for the Agency’s work and for Palestine refugees in Syria.

- Ends -

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. In 2012, the initial budgeted GF cash deficit was USD 75 million.

UNRWA has condemned attacks on its staff and Palestine refugees in Syria and urges an end to all hostilities in the country. Read our statements on Syria here.

For further information please contact:

Hala Mukhles
UNRWA public information officer, Syria
Mobile: + 963 (0)940 888103

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