United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

“Future generations depend on our efforts”

“I want to be the first Palestinian woman to become president”, declares Suha, an ambitious 15 year-old Palestine refugee student from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. “And what would you do for me?” asks her English teacher Mervat. “I would hire you as my personal advisor!” responds Suha, as the two burst into laughter. Mervat and Suha are two very dynamic and enthusiastic women. Sitting in their school’s playground, Mervat explains, “I used to study in an UNRWA school like this one and I had an English teacher I liked very much, who inspired me to become a teacher”. “When I look at Suha and at the other students I have, I realise relationships have changed. 

UNRWA opens tented school for stranded Palestinians

Some 90 Palestinian refugee children whose families have been stranded over the last nine months at al-Tanf border crossing point between Iraq and Syria, living in a makeshift refugee camp, started attending an UNRWA tented school on 3 February. At this school, UNRWA will provide general education for refugee children at elementary and preparatory levels as prescribed by the Syrian Ministry of Education. Managed by the UNRWA education programme, with eight teachers from the refugee community in al-Tanf serving as staff, the school will help cater for the refugees’ educational needs. 

Refugee parents despair as Gaza streets turn into battlegrounds

“Now life in Gaza is complete” says Um-Salim, a painful sarcasm tinging her words. Um-Saleem speaks as she run s towards the hospital after hearing that camp children were injured during recent factional infighting. “It is not enough that we have to live in deep poverty and sadness. Now death comes, without warning, to kill our children, our dreams and our hope.” Umm-Salim has four children and lives in Shati refugee camp on the western edge of Gaza City. “I told my children not to go into the streets because the situation is really dangerous. There is shooting everywhere and bullets have no mercy”. 

UNRWA appeals for emergency funding

Living conditions amongst Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have slumped to levels unseen since 1967. Every aspect of life has been affected. The crisis that began in September 2000 has deepened dramatically during 2006, as a result of the international isolation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the conditions of siege imposed on Gaza and the ongoing fragmentation of the West Bank. The majority of Palestinians are now dependent on food and cash handouts. Violence, poverty and despair are overtaking hopes for recovery and prospects for development. 

UNRWA inaugurates 40 new shelters for Palestine refugees in Ein el-Tal Camp, Aleppo, Syria

Greeted by community representatives, the Head of the Middle East Section at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in Ottawa, Ms. Lise Filietrault arrived in Ein el-Tal camp on 6 December for a hand-over ceremony of 40 housing units to Palestine refugee families who have been living in World War II Army barracks in Neirab camp, Aleppo for nearly 56 years. “Thanks to our donors and the strong support of the Syrian Government, UNRWA can help the refugees in Neirab camp with better accommodation and also raise the overall standard of living for the Palestine refugee communities both in Ein el-Tal and in Neirab”, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria Panos Moumtzis, told the audience. 

Two children shot inside UNRWA school

This Saturday afternoon two schoolchildren were shot and wounded inside UNRWA’s Beit Lahia Elementary School in the northern Gaza Strip. At 15:10 hrs, while sitting at his desk in a first grade classroom, Ahmed Isam Abdel-Aziz, seven years old, was struck by a bullet to the head. The bullet, which first bounced off a window ledge, penetrated 3-5 millimeters into Ahmed’s skull. Five minutes later, Rewa Khalid Al-Mabhouh, 12 years old, was shot in the leg. She had just entered the school’s eastern corridor to pick up her younger brother, since evacuation of the school was underway. 

Solution to the conflict will not be found on the battlefield

We should not stand idly by as the human development potential in Gaza and the West Bank is so tragically depleted. In spite of the best efforts of UNRWA and other humanitarian and development actors, this potential will continue to diminish unless political actors revive a meaningful peace process. Political actors must move quickly to help restore in both sides a genuine commitment to a peaceful resolution of this conflict and a recognition that there are partners among both parties. To those of us in the region it is as clear as day that the Palestinian issue is a quintessentially political issue. Its resolution simply will not be found on the battlefield. 

UNRWA strongly condemns Israeli military operations in Beit Hanoun

UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd expressed shock and dismay at the killing of yet more Palestine refugees, many of them women and children, in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun this morning. A barrage of tank shells hit civilian homes in Beit Hanoun early Wednesday morning, causing 19 fatalities and leaving more than 60 people injured. The Al-Athamneh family lost 17 members including four women, five children and two infants, one of them two years old, the other 9 months old. The Al-Athamneh family are Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate. “This morning’s tragedy is yet more evidence, if any were needed, that this futile cycle of inhuman violence must end,” Karen AbuZayd said. 

Beit Hanoun under Siege: Palestine Refugees Severely Affected

The latest Israeli military siege on the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun began on 1 November, greatly disrupting the lives of residents, the overwhelming majority of whom are Palestine refugees. UNRWA operations in the area have been severely hampered. Three UNRWA humanitarian convoys entered Beit Hanoun on Friday afternoon, and delivered food, water, milk, blankets and mattresses. UNRWA also sent a medical team to the Beit Hanoun health clinic to provide much-needed health services to the population there. UNRWA staff delivering humanitarian supplies noted significant damage to roads and houses as well as the presence of several Israeli military bulldozers and five tanks, close to Beit Hanoun hospital. 

Only its name remains: Eid this year in Gaza

The Eid ul-Fitr, typically a time of great celebration, literally means ‘the feast of the breaking of the fast;’ it marks the end of Ramadan, a month of daily fasting for Muslims. Traditionally, Eid is a joyful occasion; families and friends meet, gifts are exchanged, news clothes are bought and a great feast is eaten. The wearing of new clothes symbolizes the new beginning to which a month of fasting leads - the shedding of sins and the asking of forgiveness. This year, however, due to economic siege, there are few new clothes being given as Eid presents.