Fund Shortage May Force UNRWA to Delay Start of School Year in 700 Schools

JERUSALEM, July 26, 2015 (WAFA) – UNRWA on Sunday is slated to discuss the growing risk of possible delay to the start of the academic year in some 700 schools for half a million students across the Middle East, unless the deficit of $101 million can be fully funded before the school year is due to start.

An extraordinary meeting of UNRWA’s donors on Sunday is due to examine delaying the start of the academic year due to severe financial crisis the organization has ever witnessed, said the UNRWA in a statement Sunday.

The session is taking place in Jordan and brings together UNRWA’s leading donors and host governments.

Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA’s Commissioner General, said, “I am alarmed that our current funding crisis may force us to consider a delay in the start of the school year. Such a decision would generate much anxiety and despair for hundreds of thousands of boys and girls, deeply dedicated to their studies.”

“Education lies at the very heart of the identity and dignity of Palestine refugees and of what UNRWA stands for,” he said, adding that, “Possible delays in opening the school year would also have grave implications for host governments.”

The extraordinary Advisory Commission session will also discuss a special report to be sent by the Commissioner-General to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and to all 193 members of the United Nations.

The report sets out the implications of UNRWA’s $101 million deficit for 2015, the measures the Agency has taken to reduce costs and the strenuous efforts to seek the necessary funds, the UNRWA said.

The report also outlines urgent steps that could be taken to put UNRWA on a firm financial footing going forward.

UNRWA said that, nevertheless, it still has enough money to maintain its essential services that are necessary to protect public health through to the end of 2015.

This includes immunizations for children, primary health care, relief and sanitation and some emergency programs. Still, the current funding, it said, is insufficient to guarantee the stable provision of its education services from September onwards.

The Agency called on all donors, partners and UN member states to actively step forward with critical funding to allow the school year to begin without interruption, as well “to preserve the historic investment in human development of Palestine refugees, recognized as one the most successful processes of its kind in the Middle-East.”

“Ensuring the continued provision of education is a matter of dignity, rights and regional stability,” the statement concluded.