Three schools in East Jerusalem have become the grateful recipients of a US$ 2.5 million grant from the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). OFID Director-General Suleiman Al-Herbish, who is currently on an official visit to Palestine, signed an agreement to this effect with the Deputy Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Margot Ellis, followed by a tour of the Shu’fat camp on the periphery of Jerusalem.
The Shu’fat camp remains one of the most neglected areas due to poor infrastructure and high rates of unemployment. The new OFID Schools Programme (OSPJ) will focus on one elementary girls school, one preparatory girls school and one preparatory boys school that collectively serve 1,669 refugee pupils. It will provide funds for staff salaries, new teaching equipment, summer education programmes and recreational activities, in addition to the much-needed refurbishment of the Preparatory Boys School.
Margot Ellis, UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General, said: “I would like to thank OFID for their generous and continuing suppport to UNRWA. The new programme is valuable for two main reasons. First the support of a major international fund will be a boost for the morale as well as the fabric of the Shu’fat schools themselves. Secondly UNRWA will benefit from the financial support being given in what promises to be another challenging year when we face a deficit of almost US$ 70 million.”
OFID has been a committed supporter of UNRWA for over three decades, a partnership that delivers essential services to Palestine refugees across the region. The new agreement brings contributions from OFID to UNRWA to a total of over US$ 26 million over the last decade.
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$ 68.2 million.
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