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United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
17 February 2004
Press Release No. 2
17 February 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNRWA OPENS US-FUNDED LEARNING RESOURCE CENTRE IN HOMS
HOMS, Syria – In her first official visit to UNRWA, the new Ambassador of the United States to Syria, Ms Margaret Scobey, today inaugurated an UNRWA Learning Resource Centre in the Homs refugee camp, providing several thousand Palestine refugee students and the community at large with access to computer technology and learning material.
The centre, housed in a building revamped for its new purpose, includes a library and a fully-equipped computer laboratory, made possible with a donation of US$ 20,000 from the US Government, It will greatly enhance the Agency’s ability to provide effective education services in an environment conducive to learning. The centre is one of 11 UNRWA Learning Resource Centres in Syria, but the first to have a computer laboratory.
“We are once again able to do a better job of preparing our children for the opportunities of the future,” said Angela Williams, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria. “Our pupils and their teachers in Homs are now able to explore the world of computer technology for themselves - instead of just reading about it in textbooks. We are grateful for the understanding and support we receive in this from the US Government.”
UNRWA is in the process of raising funds from donors to purchase computers for all its 115 schools in Syria, following suit with Syrian Government schools, where computer science has recently been introduced into the curriculum for grade 8.
“This Centre is yet another demonstration of the continued firm support of the US Government for the Palestine refugees and UNRWA's services to them,” said Ambassador Scobey, who arrived in Syria less than two months ago.
The Director-General of the General Authority for Palestine Arab Refugees (GAPAR), ‘Ali Mustafa, thanked the US Government and UNRWA. “This testifies to the international community’s commitment to providing support and assistance to Palestine refugees.” He also thanked the Syrian Government for its generous support to Palestine refugees living in Syria.
The United States Government has consistently been UNRWA’s top donor. Last year alone, the United States provided UNRWA with nearly US$ 135 million in funds for its regular budget activities, special projects and emergency programmes. In Syria, the Government has recently contributed over US$1 million for the high-priority Neirab rehabilitation project, and US$ 263,000 for a Clothing Technology course which commenced at the Agency’s Damascus Training Centre in 2003.
The United Nations Resident Co-ordinator in Syria, ‘Ali Za’tari, Syrian officials, Palestine refugees and UNRWA staff were among those who attended the inauguration.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees is a humanitarian relief and development agency providing education, health care, social services, micro-credit and emergency relief to over four million Palestine refugees living in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. In Syria, the Agency provides assistance to some 409,000 refugees.
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