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Updated On: Friday, November 24 2017

Funding Shortfall Threatens Closure of Schools for Palestinian Refugees

Content by: South-South News

6 August 2015, New York, USA | Brendan Pastor – A critical financial crisis in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) is threatening to close down hundreds of education facilities and programs for half a million children across the Middle East, senior agency officials warned this week.

The financial woes afflicting the operation has been highlighted by officials many times in the past few months, but the report launched this month underscores the need for increased funding by donors and governments to avert a total shutdown of the education programs.

"Unless funding for the full amount of the Agency's General Fund shortfall of US$101 million is secured by the middle of August, the financial crisis may force the suspension of services relating to the Agency's education programme," UNRWA warns.

"This would mean a delay in the school year for over 500,000 students attending some 700 schools and 8 vocational training centres across the Middle East."

 

In the current situation, austerity and management reforms have secured funding only for emergency programs such as life-saving services, health, sanitation and food relief.

However, with the over $100 million funding shortfall, education programs and services are now on the chopping block.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl expressed grave concern that the measures may be required at a time when the Agency's services remain essential to Palestine refugees, their rights and their dignity, and when education has been globally recognized as essential to overall human development.

Plans to close the funding gap by the autumn period are being laid out by UNRWA officials. This includes new outreach strategies, approaching donor governments more aggressively, and using official United Nations channels to secure more sustainable funding streams for the future to avoid such crises.

The report concludes by affirming that "what is at stake is the Agency's ability to fully deliver on the international community's reaffirmation of the necessity for the continuation of the Agency's work for the well-being, protections and human development of Palestine refugees and for the stability of the region, pending a just resolution of the question of the Palestine refugees."

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