News story

UK support to help keep schools open for Palestinian children

New UK funding for UNRWA will help ensure schools reopen for half a million Palestinian children in time for new school year.

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The UK has agreed an additional donation of £3 million ($4.69 million) to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), International Development Minister Desmond Swayne announced today.

This funding is helping UNRWA to bridge its unprecedented $101 million (£65 million) deficit and open its 685 schools on time. UNRWA provides basic education for half a million Palestinian refugee children in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Desmond Swayne said:

The UK is committed to supporting Palestinian refugees through UNRWA and we see education as a top priority. UNRWA plays a crucial role in an unstable region, delivering basic services and humanitarian assistance. It provides a safe place for children to learn and play, broadens their world view through lessons on human rights and tolerance, and gives them the skills to earn an income.

I am pleased that DFID is supporting this work – our £3 million contribution will ensure Palestinian children can continue to go to school. This is in addition to our existing funding of more than £40 million to UNRWA this year.

I welcome the joint effort of donors, including those in the region, to bridge this year’s shortfall. However, the deficit is a chronic one that cannot be addressed by fundraising alone. UNRWA will need to pursue further cost saving reforms to address its deficit, to focus on providing essential services to Palestinian refugees and to bring down operating costs.

Notes to editors

DFID is the third largest donor to UNRWA’s General Fund and emergency appeals, providing over £43m to UNRWA this financial year. This includes:

  • £33m for the Agency’s General Fund, including the additional £3m contribution announced today;
  • £8m for UNRWA’s regional appeal for Palestinian refugees affected by the Syria crisis;
  • £2m for jobs creation in Gaza; and
  • A technical assistance package of up to £500,000.

Last year, following the conflict in Gaza, DFID provided an additional £9m for UNRWA to help meet humanitarian needs.

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Published 19 August 2015