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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
17 October 2014


17 October 2014
Sharjah, UAE

UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Margot Ellis has highlighted the dire situation of Palestine refugee children and youth region-wide. “Already vulnerable as refugees, occupation and conflict increasingly deprive Palestine youth of basic rights and protection,” Ms. Ellis said.

Ms. Ellis was speaking as part of a high-level panel at ‘Investing in the Future’, the first conference on protecting refugee children in the Middle East and North Africa. The event was co-hosted by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It also featured Queen Rania of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Nabil al-Araby of the Arab League.

Ms. Ellis cited 65 years of UNRWA experience contributing to protection, explaining that the Agency’s focus on maintaining the stability of families through regular services, such as education and health, is critical to the well-being and protection of children, particularly during conflict. Despite enormous challenges posed by conflict, UNRWA has largely maintained education services across war-torn Syria and Gaza, including through the use of innovative distance learning materials and satellite television programming for children who are unable to reach schools.

Ensuring that youth have the space to define their own lives is a powerful way to promote protection, Ms. Ellis said. “Their voice and vision transcend political agendas, silencing senseless violence and destruction,” she said. The new UNRWA youth voice and education project, ‘My Voice My School’ links conflict-affected youth in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan with their peers in the United Kingdom and helps students understand the impact their voice can have on their own lives.

The ‘Investing in the Future’ conference aimed to raise awareness of the acute state of child protection issues in the Middle East and North Africa and seek practical solutions to these problems.

Click here to read the Deputy Commissioner-General's full remarks.


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$ 56 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267 sends e-mail)

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724

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