PA Rejects UNRWA’s Possible Delay of Academic Year 2015-2016

RAMALLAH, August 2, 2015 (WAFA) – Secretary-General of the Palestinian Cabinet, Ali Abu Diak, Sunday rejected UNRWA’s proposal to postpone the start of the new academic year for over half a million students across the Middle East for a period of four months due to severe finical crisis.

On July 26, UNRWA announced a 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.

He said if UNRWA’s proposal is implemented in the five fields the organization provides assistance to, including Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza, over half a million students, including 320 thousand in Gaza and the West Bank alone, would be deprived from their right to education.

The secretary-General urged UNRWA to look for alternative realistic solution to the current crisis; through searching for new donors with the cooperation of the United Nations (UN).

He called on the UN, and the rest of the world countries to uphold their responsibilities toward Palestinian refugees’ issue

Abu Diak stressed the need for UNRWA to resume its work and provision of assistance to Palestinian refugees as long as there is no political solution to the refugees’ issue on the basis of international legitimacy resolutions, particularly resolution 194; the right of return and compensation.

He stressed that the Palestinian side is exerting all efforts on all international levels in order to find a solution to UNRWA’s severe financial crisis, which he stressed, if not resolved would have an impact on the stability of the region.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States. UNRWA also receives some funding from the Regular Budget of the United Nations, which is used mostly for international staffing costs.

The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict.

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) of December 8, 1949 to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees. The Agency began operations on May 1, 1950.

In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA’s mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2017.