The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), inaugurated the UNRWA Beit Ula Basic Girls’ School No. 1, located in the village of Beit Ula village, northwest of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.
The opening ceremony was attended by Ms. Gwyn Lewis, Director of UNRWA Affairs in the West Bank, Engineer Ekhlass Ratrout, General Manager of Bayt Al Handasah Consultative Company, a Representative of the Islamic Development Bank, His Excellency Dr. Naser Qatami, the Palestinian Prime Minister’s Advisor for Arab and Islamic Funds, Mr. Mohammad Amleh, Mayor of the Beit Ula Municipality, Mr Mohammad Frookh, the Head of Directorate General of Ministry of Education in the southern West Bank and other representatives of the local civil society.
The construction of the school was made possible through a generous US$ 4.5 million contribution from the Arab Monetary Fund through the Islamic Development Bank. Led and implemented by the UNRWA Infrastructure and Camp Improvement team, the project includes constructing, furnishing and equipping the 5,300 square meter school with 36 classrooms, as well as science and computer labs, a library, a canteen and a playground.
This project contributes to the Agency’s strategic priority of providing quality, equitable, and inclusive basic education to Palestine refugees through the construction of educational premises that ensure the safety and security of the students and promote a conducive learning environment. The cutting-edge design of the school also takes into consideration sustainability and environmentally friendly building solutions, gender mainstreaming and inclusivity.
The Beit Ula Girls’ School, one of the largest UNRWA schools in the West Bank, will serve 1,316 Palestinian refugee students, supported by 46 educational staff members.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ms. Lewis said: “On behalf of UNRWA and the Palestine refugees whom we serve, I would like to thank the Arab Monetary Fund and the Islamic Development Bank for their generosity, and for being such an important partner to the Agency. I would also like to extend my appreciation to all UNRWA staff who have worked tirelessly to complete the project. We are here, today, to celebrate this achievement that will first and foremost improve the learning experience of our students.”
In her speech in the inauguration Engineer Ratrout said: “I am happy to be a part of this happy event representing the Islamic Development Bank and participating in the inauguration of yet another project to support the steadfastness of Palestine refugees. This project funded by the Arab Monetary Fund through the Islamic Development Bank will contribute to bring quality education to a new generation of Palestinians.”
Between 2018 and 2021, thanks to the generous support by the Islamic Development Bank, UNRWA was able to initiate construction and rehabilitation of various installations across the West Bank, including three schools and two health centers. The most recent US$ 2 million contribution from the Arab Monetary Fund through the Islamic Development Bank, the manager of the Al-Aqsa Fund, will also enable UNRWA to upgrade its solid waste management tools and equipment.
Since 2010, the Islamic Development Bank, through the Al-Aqsa Fund, the Arab Monetary Fund and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, has contributed with more than US$ 179 million to UNRWA across its fields of operations.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support and has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA program budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s program budget. Its emergency programs and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, 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 registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Thousands of Palestinian refugees who lost both their homes and livelihoods because of the 1948 conflict and have remained displaced and in need of significant support for over seventy years. UNRWA helps them achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.