DIRECTOR OF UNRWA OPERATIONS REACHES OUT TO CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
THROUGH REGULAR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT MEETINGS
On 14 February, Mr. , Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, accepted an invitation from the United Cultural & Social Society in Rafah area, southern Gaza to meet with representatives from civil society organizations, university professors, community activists, private sector, beneficiaries and parents’ councils.
The meeting is in line with the Director’s regular outreach meetings, which aim to maintain and strengthen the Agency’s community engagement across the Gaza Strip.
The meeting was attended by Dr. Yousef Mousa, Chief Area Officer (CAO) - Rafah, Mr. Ismail Mansour, deputy CAO, representatives from the Rafah community and Dr. Omer Shabán, Founder and Director of Palthink for Strategic Studies.
The meeting focused on issues related to the Rafah governorate and ways of potentially developing UNRWA services, in particular in the education and health sectors. A plan to further involve civil society organizations and community members in the UNRWA planning process was also discussed.
“I don’t spare any opportunity inside and outside of Gaza to advocate for and talk about Gaza and its people,” said Mr. Schack during the outreach meeting.“I talk about the energy issues, restrictions of movement, the ongoing blockade, and the need to create a new environment for Palestine refugees, and all people in Gaza."
At the conclusion of the two hour meeting, Mr. Schack listened to questions and comments in relation to the current role of UNRWA and community expectations. He thanked participants for the friendly environment which prevailed during the meeting, giving an indication that the Agency's relationship with the community is based on respect and trust.
The Gaza field office approach of communication with communities and the regular outreach meetings was highly commended by those in attendance, and UNRWA achievements particularly in Rafah area were said to be appreciated by the local community.
Mr. Schack conducts outreach meetings in each of Gaza’s five governorates on a quarterly basis.
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$ 81 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, and microfinance.
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