The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) today inaugurated the UNRWA boys’ school and Aida health center, located in the camp of ‘Aida, in Bethlehem, in the southern West Bank. The groundbreaking ceremony comes in conjunction with the 2021-2022 back-to-school year and was attended by UNRWA West Bank Director of Operations Gwyn Lewis.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Ms Lewis said: “On behalf of UNRWA, I welcome each of you to this very special event, the inauguration of the Boys’ School and from the Aida health center. This project is just one of many other infrastructure projects funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On behalf of all UNRWA field staff in the West Bank, residents of Aida camp and the Palestinian refugee community, I would like to thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its generosity.
This contribution from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through the Saudi Fund for Development (SDF) of US $ 4,110,000, enables UNRWA to significantly improve the learning environment for the 467 students enrolled in the school Aida Boys. The project includes the construction and furnishing of 18 classrooms for students from grades 1 to 9, a multipurpose room, a library, computer and science laboratories, as well as a kitchen and a canteen.
In addition, the contribution allowed the Aida Health Center to be fully furnished and equipped to ensure sufficient capacity to accommodate patients and ensure an optimal level of medical care. The Centre’s 21 dedicated medical staff serve nearly 29,000 registered Palestinian refugees living in and around Aida camp.
Since 2013, thanks to generous grants from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 39 UNRWA facilities have been built or rehabilitated in the West Bank, including schools and health centers. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has donated over US $ 800 million to the Agency and has become a major donor to UNRWA.
UNRWA faces increased demand for services resulting from an increase in the number of registered Palestinian refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and the deepening of their poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been overtaken by growing needs. As a result, UNRWA’s program budget, which supports the provision of basic essential services, is operating with a large deficit. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to make every effort to fully fund the Agency’s program budget. UNRWA’s emergency programs and key projects, which also operate with large deficits, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to Palestinian refugees registered in the Agency’s area of operations, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, while waiting for a just and lasting solution to their plight. Thousands of Palestinian refugees who lost both their homes and their livelihoods as a result of the 1948 conflict have remained displaced and need significant support for more than seventy years. UNRWA helps them realize their full potential for human development through the quality services it provides in the areas of education, health care, relief and social services, protection, infrastructure and improvement of camps, microfinance and emergency aid. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.