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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
United Nations News Service (See also > DPI)
26 September 2006

UN relief agency makes school grants to Palestinian refugee children in Gaza

26 September 2006 A United Nations relief agency has distributed 100 shekels (about $25) apiece to Palestinian refugee children to cover the costs of school bags, uniforms and shoes in the Gaza Strip, infusing noticeable economic activity into a region that has reached an unprecedented level of unemployment following the suspension of much foreign aid.

This gives new meaning to the phrase “education is our economy,” said Muhasen Muhaisen, Chief of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Education department in Gaza, which has been particularly hard hit since Israel stopped tax transfers and other countries suspended contributions to the Palestinian Authority (PA) following the Hamas election victory in January.

Israel and international donors insist that Hamas, whose charter is committed to Israel’s destruction, must subscribe to the principles of non-violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and accept previous agreements and obligations, including the UN-backed Roadmap plan providing for two states living side by side in peace.

Various UN agencies have warned regularly over the past months of a looming humanitarian emergency in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Given the dire economic situation, Mrs. Muhaisen stressed that families in Gaza are placing a premium on the education of their children and that the rock-bottom drop-out rate, an estimated 0.64 percent, reflected this.

She insisted that most parents use the 100 shekels per child for school expenses rather than for food: they “closed their mouths [didn’t eat] and used the 100 shekels [per child] for school supplies,” she said.

Established in 1949 after the first Israeli-Arab war, UNRWA is the main provider of basic services - education, health, relief and social services - to over 4.3 million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East.

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