In Ramallah on 27 May, Palestine refugee students from UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools across the West Bank gathered at the Palestinian Medical Relief Society to attend the closing ceremony of the popular EU-UNRWA Fun Days project. The event was attended by officials from UNRWA, the European Union (EU), and a number of UNRWA teachers who helped organizing the EU-UNRWA Summer Fun Days.
The project was funded entirely by the EU, whose support of EUR 100,000 (US$ 137,000) made it possible for more than 6,000 young Palestine refugees to learn about European culture. Throughout the summer of 2013 and on Saturdays in the first semester of the 2013/14 school year, more than 50 UNRWA schools in the West Bank hosted EU-UNRWA fun days, giving children a chance to enjoy poetry, art, dance, gymnastics and other fun activities.
Opening the ceremony, the Chief of the UNRWA education programme in the West Bank expressed his gratitude to the EU, saying: “The EU Fun Days gave UNRWA students in the West Bank the chance to participate in extracurricular activities and express themselves by showing their talents”. He added: “A variety of activities was carried out with the ultimate goal of strengthening children’s knowledge about European culture and heritage and teaching them about the EU’s strong role in supporting the Palestinian people and Palestine refugees.” The EU has been a consistent supporter of the Palestine refugee community.
For the fourth year running the EU and UNRWA have brought together thousands of Palestinian refugee children to learn about European culture and history through a range of fun activities targeting children" said the Deputy EU Representative, David Geer. "At the same time", he added," events such as these help to develop a future generation inspired by values of solidarity, tolerance and dignity – principles which lie at the heart of both organisations"
Deputy Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank David Hutton told the audience: “I’d like to thank the European Union for the generous funds which enabled UNRWA in the West Bank through the education programme to run and implement summer camps and EU extracurricular activities during Saturdays at more than 50 UNRWA schools. Not only do these services provide educational and recreational opportunities for children, but they contribute to their overall psychosocial well-being and help to mitigate the protection threats facing many Palestine refugee children.”
The closing ceremony featured an exhibition of student artwork as well as performances, giving the students a chance to show off their achievements and share their experiences.
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$ 69 million.
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