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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
3 August 2016


03 August 2016

Under the patronage of the Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Lebanon, His Excellency Ashraf Dabbour, and the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Matthias Schmale, and with the generous support of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UNRWA Siblin Training Centre (STC) held two commencement ceremonies for the 2015/16 academic year, honouring the 482 students graduating from its South and North campuses with expertise in over 22 specializations.

The first ceremony was held on Wednesday, 27 July 2016, at the STC South Campus in Siblin in the presence of the Head of the Cooperation Section from the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, Dr. Alexis Loeber; the UNICEF Representative to Lebanon (Officer-in-Charge) Violet Warnery; representatives for Taymour Walid Jumblatt (Progressive Socialist Party, PSP) and Major-General Ibrahim Basbous; the Mayor of Siblin, Mohammad Koubar; members of popular committees and factions; representatives from Lebanese and Palestinian civil society organizations; representatives of national and international partners; the Chief of the UNRWA Education Programme, Mr. Ahmad Mouh; staff and teachers; community members; students; and family members.

In his welcoming address, the Director of the UNRWA Siblin Training Centre, Samer Serhan, praised the STC academic team, welcomed distinguished guests and partners, and saluted the graduates’ determination and perseverance in spite of the growing challenges they face, reminding them of their duties to their community: “Find your way to model, mentor and share some scintilla of what you have learned, imagined, and created here.”

Speaking on behalf of her fellow graduates, valedictorian Marwa Sharara shared her thoughts on the impact that STC has had on her life and the lives of her peers. “I wish to profoundly thank UNRWA, the European Union and UNICEF for their efforts in the upgrade and modernization of the STC and its overall educational and recreational facilities and ask them to continue to support this life-changing centre,” she added.

The Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Matthias Schmale, congratulated the students, saying: “Today we recognize and salute 482 students for their hard work, perseverance and achievements. Lebanon is a challenging environment for Palestine refugees, and I would like to thank UNRWA vocational training staff and parents and friends for standing by and supporting all these students in improving their knowledge and skills. No doubt this will increase the chances of these young people in searching for and realizing employment and livelihood opportunities. And there are others to thank. Today would not have been possible without the financial support of both the European Union and UNICEF. And this is not only about financial support! We also thank our partners and all involved for their belief in the potential of our diverse graduates.”

Stressing the long-standing support of the European Union to UNRWA and their commitment to improving the livelihood of Palestine refugees – including, among other vital areas of interventions, the platform of youth empowerment – Dr. Alexis Loeber said: “Education – no other single investment can have more impact on society’s well-being, its economic success, its wealth, its level of equality. This is why a substantial part of the European Union’s funds is dedicated to this sector, ranging from basic and higher education to vocational education and training. We believe education is vital and will provide people with the freedom that can bring about much-needed change to communities. In this spirit, the EU is spearheading the list of donors to UNRWA education activities, not only in Lebanon, but also at the regional level.”

On her part, Ms. Warnery noted that the celebration was a testament to the determination of young Palestine refugees to overcome the challenges surrounding them, adding, “We are proud of your achievements and will continue to stand beside you and explore ways to invest in your futures.”

Congratulating the students and their families, the Palestinian Ambassador, HE Ashraf Dabbour, relayed to the students the “greetings and appreciation of President Mahmoud Abbas.” He added, “Your perseverance is admirable and armed with your determination, education and knowledge, you will move forward in life and achieve all of your dreams, hopes and ambitions.”

The ceremony concluded with the awarding of honorary trophies to five distinguished students who exemplified the accomplishments of the graduating class, followed by the distribution of diplomas to the 375 graduates of the class of 2016 from the STC South Campus.

A second commencement ceremony was held on Friday, 29 July 2016, at the Safadi Cultural Centre in Tripoli, where another 107 students from the STC North Campus graduated in the presence of the representative of HE Ambassador Dabbour and Fatah Official in North Lebanon Abu Jihad Fayyad; the Deputy Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Sebastien Laplanche; General Karam Mrad, represented by Lieutenant-Colonel Amin Fallah; UNRWA North Lebanon Chief of Area Office, Osama Barakeh; the administrative and educational bodies of STC; representatives of Palestinian committees and factions; local, national and international partners; guests and parents.

Speaking on behalf of the graduates of the STC North Campus, Sundos Addul Razik expressed her gratitude to UNRWA for equipping young Palestine refugees with the essential skills, supportive services and tools to assist them in fulfilling their full potential in an extremely challenging environment in Lebanon.

Honorary trophies were awarded to outstanding students and diplomas were distributed at the end of the ceremony to the 107 graduates of the class of 2016 from the STC North Campus.

The European Union is the largest contributor to UNRWA in Lebanon, having supported the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared, shelter and infrastructure rehabilitation in camps, services for Palestine refugees from Syria who have been displaced to Lebanon, and the Agency’s education and training programmes.

UNICEF is one of the Agency’s largest partners and has provided nearly US$ 20 million in cash and in-kind contributions since 2013 for Palestine refugee children in Lebanon, supporting the Agency’s education, health, child protection, and water and sanitation interventions.


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 .

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724

Zizette Darkazally
Public Information Officer - Lebanon Field Office
+ 961 (0)1 840 490
+ 961 (0)1 830 400

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