GAZA, 16 July (UNRWA) -- The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Peter Hansen, and his headquarters staff moved into their new offices in Gaza City on Monday, 15 July, after closing the Vienna headquarters which UNRWA has maintained for the past 18 years.
Mr. Hansen said UNRWA's move to the area of operations is taking place in difficult times when it is important "to ensure much closer coordination between headquarters and field operations and better contact between UNRWA and the beneficiaries of its services, the Palestine refugees".
In addition to the Commissioner-General's office, the departments of finance and administration, human resources, legal affairs, and external relations and public information are now located in Gaza City. The departments for education, health, and relief and social services programmes, which relocated to Amman earlier, remained there.
This is the second major move of UNRWA headquarters during the Agency's 46-year history. In 1978, because of the difficult security situation in Lebanon, the headquarters moved from Beirut to Vienna.
Some 80 UNRWA staff members are moving to Gaza from Vienna and a number of others will be hired locally in the Gaza Strip. The majority of the staff moving are Palestinians, many of whom are now taking up international staff posts.
The UNRWA Gaza headquarters is located in a new 4,300 square metre building adjacent to the Agency's field office. An official opening ceremony will be held in August.
The move to Gaza is being financed through special donations from governments including the following major contributors: Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States.
The UNRWA provides education, health, relief and social services to more than 3.2 million registered Palestine refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.