UK boosts funding for Palestinian schools

20 Aug 15

The UK government has committed £3m in new funding to help the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reopen schools for half a million Palestinian children in time for the new academic year.

The new support will help UNRWA to bridge its £65m deficit and open 685 schools on time, international development minister Desmond Swayne announced.

“I welcome the joint effort of donors, including those in the region, to bridge this year’s shortfall. However, the deficit is a chronic one that cannot be addressed by fundraising alone,” he said.

“UNRWA will need to pursue further cost saving reforms to address its deficit, to focus on providing essential services to Palestinian refugees and to bring down operating costs.”

The UK government said it was committed to supporting Palestinian refugees through UNRWA and sees education as a top priority.

Commenting on the UK's latest financial commitment, Nicola Jones, from the Overseas Development Institute think tank, who researched the mental health of teenage girls in Gaza following last year’s military action by Israel, said: “Without these schools Gaza pupils would be isolated at home or in refugee centres, where there can be tight cultural constraints on adolescent girls."

Praising the UK government’s action she added: “Going to school gives them the chance to move about freely.

“School will also give girls the skills they need to get jobs and support themselves – which helps to stop them being pressurised into early marriage.

UNRWA delivers basic education and humanitarian assistance for refugee children in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. It is intended to provide a safe place for children to learn and play as well as providing lessons on human rights and tolerance.

  • Judith Ugwumadu
    Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith writes about public finance, public services and economics across Public Finance International and Public Finance. She previously undertook reporting stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express.

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