UNITED STATES ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL US$ 68 MILLION CONTRIBUTION TO SUPPORT PALESTINE REFUGEES
15 July 2016
The United States government has announced a new contribution of nearly US$ 68 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), including more than US$ 3.8 million for the construction of a multipurpose school building in Zohour to replace the current rented facilities and more than $1.3 million for the extension of Jordan Field operations support office (OSO). The majority of the nearly $68 million contribution will go to the Agency's Programme Budget to support more than 170 UNRWA schools in Jordan; as well as its health clinics and social services programmes, which help Palestine refugees’ efforts to stay healthy and secure.
U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Alice Wells and UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Sandra Mitchell made the joint announcement about the contribution during a visit to Zohour Elementary Girls’ Schools.
“The United States has been and remains UNRWA’s largest and most reliable donor, consistently supporting UNRWA’s core programs of education, healthcare, and relief and social services” said Ambassador Wells. “We know that UNRWA, in partnership with the Jordanian government, plays a vital and stabilizing role in the lives of Palestinian refugees here in Jordan, and we will continue to support that partnership.”
“I express my sincere appreciation to the Government of the United States for their continuous, steadfast dedication to supporting Palestine refugees,” said UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Sandra Mitchell. “This latest contribution to the Programme’s’ budget once again demonstrates the United States’ strong commitment to the Agency and its core activities.”
The Agency’s four schools in Zohour are all rented and operate on double-shifts, with more than 2,000 female Palestine refugee students from grades 1 to 10. The two old buildings are among the twenty two rented school buildings where more than 15,000 Palestine refugees students attend their classes.
The new multipurpose school building will include recreational spaces, computer and science labs, libraries and multipurpose rooms, and will be furnished and equipped to meet the Agency’s educational standards, as well as the requirements of the Jordanian curriculum. The school building will also be built to ensure accessibility for those with special needs and will include multiple green features to improve energy efficiency.
The construction would have not been possible in the crowded area of Zohour without a generous contribution from the Government of Jordan, which secured a plot of land for the construction of the multipurpose school.
The majority of the schools in Jordan that are accommodated in rented apartment buildings fall below the Agency’s standards for safety and providing an appropriate and conducive learning environment. These schools pose many challenges, including a lack of space; overcrowding; poor lighting and ventilation; and a lack of additional facilities, such as science labs, computer rooms, libraries and playgrounds.
In addition to the funding for the Zohour school, the United States is also funding the continuation of UNRWA’s operations support office (OSO). The objectives of the UNRWA OSO programme are threefold: to safeguard and uphold the neutrality of UNRWA installations, staff and assets; to promote the rights of Palestine refugees and respond effectively to protection incidents and concerns; and to facilitate greater alignment of UNRWA programmes and service delivery with the Agency’s common protection standards in a manner that promotes and respects the rights of beneficiaries.
The United States is the largest bilateral donor to UNRWA and has long been one of the Agency’s most reliable supporters.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 74 million. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance .
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