Israel Poverty Rates
Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not only deter violent radicalism and terrorism but also reduce Israel’s poverty rates by opening the door to prosperity and human rights for all citizens. Israel is densely populated with 8.5 million people, one-fifth of whom are Arab. While 14% of Jewish Israelis are poor, 55% of Arabs live below the poverty line.

The divide over Gaza is one of many issues plaguing the peace process in Israel. A 2008 airstrike on Gaza damaged many houses and buildings, displacing thousands of Palestinian families. Mostly populated by Palestinians, Gaza is currently under Israeli blockade, cutting off necessities such as electricity, food and medicine.

On average, Arabs make half of what Jewish workers make and are less likely to hold a job. The limited access to power and electricity in Gaza leaves a majority of the 600,000 families unemployed and hungry. Unemployment rates are at an all-time low in Israel. Yet, 70% of those working earn less than average salaries. On the bright side, Israel established a joint initiative with large companies to hire more Israeli-Arabs in 2016, opening better career opportunities to 500 Arabs.

Israel’s poverty rates are affecting future generations. One in three children lives below the poverty line, causing lifelong consequences to health, brain development, nutrition and educational attainment. While school years have increased over time, the quality of education is still low because teachers earn low wages.

So far, American-mediated efforts to help resolve the conflict failed because Israel continues expanding West Bank settlements, Palestinians remain politically divided, and the path to constructive dialogue between Israeli-Arabs and Israeli-Jews is unclear.

The lack of peace is increasing Israel’s poverty rates and an unstable economic situation in West Bank and Gaza. World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza Marina Wes says that Gaza stands “on the verge of a human catastrophe.” All sides need to focus on relief combined with a commitment to financial support from the international community to bring about real changes.

Jennifer Mcallister

Photo: Flickr

Palestine Poverty Rate
Israeli blockades, land restrictions and a drop in foreign aid have ensured that Palestine’s poverty rate remains high, according to reports from the U.N. and the World Bank. However, new Israeli policies give Palestine some hope.

Palestine’s poverty rate is at 25%, and, among the youth, it is at 56%, which is the highest youth poverty rate in the world. Unemployment is at 40%, and last year 1,100 people were left homeless. While the population has increased steadily, the economy has not improved much. Over the last decade, the GDP growth rate has not exceeded 1.44%, but the population rose by 38.4%. Additionally, the business sector has lost between 50 and 60% of their pre-2014 assets, production, exports and employment.

Israeli policy is primarily responsible for Palestine’s poverty rate. Israel has blockaded the Gaza region for the 11th year in a row.  The Israeli government has also declared a third of the arable land in the area and half of Gaza’s fishing waters to be high-risk no-go zones. Additionally, last year Israel destroyed 780 Palestinian homes.

Palestine has not received much of the foreign aid that was pledged to it. The U.S. pledged $3.5 billion in 2014 but is far behind its aid plan, as 51% of the money has been disbursed. The U.S. drew up a recovery plan, but only 17% of the $3.9 billion of the recovery plan’s funds have been allocated to financial needs in the area. Moreover, 1.6 million tons of construction materials, which is only seven percent of what is necessary, was brought to Gaza since the 2014 summer war.

Israel has taken steps to better relations in the region. The Israeli government is instituting a plan to rebuild and reconstruct Palestine to combat Palestine’s poverty rate. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign affairs reported that 100,513 homes have been repaired and that 2,733 have been rebuilt. This plan will hopefully heal the political divide in the region.

While Palestine’s poverty rate remains high, political tensions ensure a stagnant economy and there is little incoming foreign aid, there may be room for a political compromise in the future. The international community remains dedicated to easing the situation in Palestine, ending the Israeli blockade around Gaza and ending land restrictions. With the help of the international community and more support from the Israeli government, Palestine’s poverty rate could drop significantly.

Bruce Edwin Ayres Truax

Photo: Flickr

Where are the Palestinian Refugees Camps?
The 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict marked the beginning of a long journey for Palestinians. During the war, approximately 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes in what is now Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories and became refugees. Following the 1948 war, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) was established by the U.N. General Assembly to provide relief and works programs for Palestinian refugees.

The UNRWA defines Palestinian refugees as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” The definition was later expanded to include all descendants of male Palestinian refugees, including adopted children. Consequently, 68 years after the 1948 war and subsequent conflicts and uprisings, the number of Palestinian refugees has ballooned from 700,000 to roughly 5 million.

Most of the refugees sought asylum in neighboring Arab countries, where temporary camps were established and have since become permanent settlements. Nearly one-third, or 1.6 million, of Palestinian refugees live in 58 camps in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. The remaining two-thirds primarily live in or near the cities of host countries and territories, including those internally displaced in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories.

Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip is a tiny enclave on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea bordering Israel and Egypt. The territory has a population of 1.7 million, of which 1.3 million are registered Palestinian refugees. Subject to a blockade on all sides, residents of Gaza have severely restricted freedom of movement, and Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth.

Continuous conflict between Hamas and Israel has also worsened the conditions within the Gaza Strip and has internally displaced thousands since the original 1948 conflict. As a result, 80% of the population is dependent on international assistance, and the eight refugee camps regularly face shortages of food, clean drinking water, medicine and opportunities to lift themselves out of the camps.

West Bank

The West Bank is an Israeli occupied territory located between Israel and Jordan with a population of 2.7 million. There are nearly 775,000 registered refugees living in the territory, mostly living in major towns and rural areas. However, around a quarter of the registered refugees live in 19 camps scattered throughout the territory. Although conditions are generally better than Gaza, refugees living in camps in the West Bank also face squalid living conditions and major freedom of movement restrictions.

Syria

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, thousands of Palestinians fled to Syria where they were generally welcomed and treated well. They were granted the same duties and responsibilities as Syrian citizens, other than political rights and nationality. As a result, by 2003 there were over 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria living in nine camps and in Syrian cities.

Syria’s ongoing civil war has severely exacerbated the plight of Palestinian refugees in the country, leaving many in besieged or hard to reach areas. Before the conflict began in 2011, UNRWA estimated there were 526,000 registered Palestinian refugees in the country. Today, many of the camps have been deserted or destroyed, and the refugees that remain in Syria continually experience a deterioration of humanitarian conditions. For instance, the Yarmouk Camp, located just outside Damascus and home to roughly 160,000 Palestinian refugees prior to the war, recently experienced fierce clashes between rebel groups, ISIS and the Syrian Army. The fighting left nearly 18,000 refugees without food, water and medical supplies, and resulted in a severe Typhoid outbreak.

Lebanon

Situated on the Mediterranean Sea between Israel and Syria, Lebanon has a population of 6.2 million, of which 450,000 are registered Palestinian refugees. The country is also home to thousands of undocumented and unregistered Palestinians, with estimates ranging from 10,000 to 40,000. Overall, Palestinians are thought to make up 10% of the total Lebanese population.

Around half of all Palestinian refugees in Lebanon reside in 12 refugee camps. Although many of these camps have existed for decades, they routinely suffer from high rates of poverty, unemployment and other issues such as overcrowding and lack of sufficient infrastructure. Those living outside the registered Palestinian refugee camps suffer continued discrimination, are denied basic rights and are even barred from working in certain professions. Consequently, Lebanon has the highest percentage of Palestinian refugees living in abject poverty among all other countries and territories UNRWA operates in.

Jordan

Jordan shares a border with Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the West Bank, and has a population of 8.2 million. Jordan is home to the highest number of Palestinian refugees, with 2.1 million registered and thousands more that have fled Palestinian refugee camps in Syria. Palestinians account for approximately a quarter of the total Jordanian population.

Most, but not all, Palestinian refugees have been granted full Jordanian citizenship and have been well integrated into society for decades. However, nearly 370,000 are settled in ten camps throughout the country. An additional 10,000 that have crossed the border from Syria live in camps along the border that have increasingly dire conditions and residents are prohibited from leaving.

Originally forced to flee fighting in the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, Palestinian refugees have long endured turbulent and unstable conditions since leaving home. Many have fled war only to be met with more violence and conflict in places such as Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. Many are faced with severe human rights violations and are denied freedom of movement, leaving many to be born, live and die in the same place. In addition to these issues, the right of refugees to ultimately return to their homeland remains a major obstacle to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

For now, Palestinians remain part of the harrowing refugee crisis of the 21st century.

-Brendan Hennessey

Photo: Flickr

Solving the Water Shortage in Israel and Palestine
Less than a decade ago, a serious water shortage in Israel threatened the quality of life and future survival of the Israeli people. Water quality and abundance in Israel have improved in recent years with the help of desalination techniques that turn Mediterranean seawater and wastewater into usable water.

Israel is an arid, Mediterranean country with a history of extreme water shortages. The seven-year drought that began in 2005 depleted Israel’s natural water sources and compromised the quality of the water. The Israeli government established the Water Authority in 2007 to focus the efforts on solving the water shortage in Israel.

One of the government’s methods for fixing the water shortage in Israel was its implementation of desalination plants that produce more than 130 billion gallons of water per year. Some experts say that desalination is becoming a cheap and energy-efficient way to treat water.

Desalination processes make more than 50 percent of water for various sectors of Israel, including homes, agriculture and industry. Water is now more expensive for farmers, but it is at least readily available.

Israel also reuses and recycles wastewater for agricultural purposes by treating 86 percent of domestic wastewater. The nation now leads as the world’s top water recycler.

Despite plentiful water supplies for Israel, the nation shares its mountain aquifer with the West Bank. Israel claims that it gives Palestinians more than what peace accords require it to give, but Palestinians are not satisfied with the amount or cost of the water.

The technology that solved the water shortage in Israel has not helped the Palestinians who rely on Israel’s water sources. The agreements that provided Palestinians with 20 percent of the water from the mountain aquifer have become outdated as the Palestinian population has almost doubled.

According to The Economist, Palestinians get an average of 73 liters of water a day. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 100 liters of water per day. To make matters worse, the coastal aquifer that Palestinians in Gaza rely on is polluted and could soon become permanently damaged.

Israelis have water thanks to revolutionary water treating techniques. Complex political and social struggles prevent Palestinians from gaining access to the same water. Now that Israel has solved its own water shortage, its actions will largely decide if Palestinians get the water that they need to survive.

Addie Pazzynski

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Palestine

Gaza is one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world, with 1.8 million people confined in a 140-mile radius. The only water resource, the Coastal Aquifer, is insufficient for the needs of the population. Water access and water quality in Palestine leaves a lot to be desired.

The World Bank reported on the poor water quality in Palestine, as well as the lack of access to sanitation services that reached crisis proportions. Due to said conditions, Palestinians in Gaza are forced to over-extract water from the Coastal Aquifer in order to stay alive. They obtain water at a rate equivalent to twice the aquifer’s yearly sustainable yield, causing the water to become contaminated.

In 2008, WHO estimated that 26% of diseases in Gaza were water-related, a statistic that could be higher now that 90-95% of Gaza water is polluted and unfit for human consumption. Due to the contamination, high levels of nitrite were found in the groundwater at levels far above the WHO accepted guideline of 50mg per liter. Such dispersion has increased cases of methemoglobinemia, a blood disorder that impedes the flow of oxygen in young infants.

Why Palestinians in Gaza Lack Water Facilities

The water quality in Palestine remains unsanitary due to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, and military operations hinder the possibility of Palestinians restoring their water facilities. Wells, cisterns and roof water tanks have been destroyed and damaged, most notably during the Israeli attacks in 2008 and 2014.

During the 2008 Operation ‘Cast Lead,’ Israel caused U.S. $6 million worth of damage to Gaza’s water supply and wastewater facilities. In 2014 the Israeli attack on Gaza resulted in heavy destruction of infrastructure; the total damage was estimated to be $4.4 billion and included water and sanitation facilities.

The loss of water facilities has had a lasting impact on the Palestinians in Gaza. The continued blockade by Israeli security forces prevents the import of equipment and spare parts needed to repair and improve the water supply and sanitation systems. Even simple sanitation items such as chlorine are not permitted.

Furthermore, water main and sewage conduits are routinely crushed by Israeli tanks and armored vehicles. Water tanks are also shot at and damaged by Israeli soldiers.

Addressing the Issue Through the BDS Movement

In 2007 Palestinians founded “Lifesource,” a collective working at the grassroots level to organize for water justice.

The mission of Lifesource is to:

  1. Educate Palestinians about their water rights and enable communities to take an active role in improving the situation.
  2. Promote and utilize nonviolent popular resistance tactics for the human rights to water and sanitation.
  3. Connect popular movements locally and globally to support Palestinian water rights.

In 2009 “Lifesource” partnered with the global campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

Lifesource led a program called “BDS for Palestinian Water Justice,” supporting boycott divestment and eschewing sanctions that infringe on Palestinians right to water and sanitation. The BDS Movement works to increase economic and political pressure on Israel to end the occupation and colonization of Palestinian land. By organizing demonstrations that target companies that have contracts with Israel, companies are pressured to break ties with Israel, thus deterring the country from continuing to occupy Palestine. Their work led to some success: water companies profiteering from human rights violations, such as Eden Springs and Veolia, lost important contracts and had to downsize or close their doors.

Although Lifesource came to an end in 2012, the BDS movement is still up and running, giving Palestinians in Gaza hope that their basic human needs will continue to be addressed.

Marcelo Guadiana

Photo: Flickr

Israeli Refugees

The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 left many of the Palestinians who lived in these lands without homes or basic rights. The current politics of Israel leaves many of these people without access to services and human rights. Israel houses tens of thousands of African asylum seekers, as well as many more Palestinians, both within and outside its borders. Here are 10 facts about Israeli refugees.

10 Facts About Israeli Refugees

  1. Those seeking asylum in Israel do not have any rights or eligibility for social services.
  2. The Israeli government tries to push many refugees out of the country by detaining them, not accepting their asylum claims, not allowing them to participate in social services and through repatriation.
  3. The Supreme Court of Israel does not approve of the government’s treatment of Israeli refugees, specifically those of African descent. In two separate decisions, the Court has asked the Israeli government for policies that will take basic human rights principles into considerations for African refugees. Although the government did not comply, the Court’s demands for more comprehensive legislation concerning refugees is a step in the right direction.
  4. Palestinian refugees who re-enter Israel are considered “infiltrators” for crossing the border under the Prevention of Infiltration Law. The Israeli government has considered them a threat to national security since it passed the law in the 1950s.
  5. As of 2008, the Israeli government also considers African refugees “infiltrators.” The government passed an amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law in 2011, officially making the presence of African refugees in Israel unlawful.
  6. African refugees protested in 2014 in order for the Israeli government to recognize their rights. According to the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC), this was the first time that the asylum-seekers had distinct leaders associated with the movement. The height of the movement involved about 20,000 refugees and supporters. The peaceful approach helped to give government officials and the public more empathy for these refugees. The foundations of these protests will hopefully pave the way to legislative and societal changes in favor of refugees.
  7. Palestinian refugees are among the largest refugee populations in the world. According to the Palestinian Return Centre, about one in every three refugees from around the world is Palestinian.
  8. Many Palestinian refugees have remained close to their places of origins in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. More than one and a quarter million Palestinian refugees live in the nearly 60 official refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Others live in unofficial camps.
  9. The Palestinian Return Centre reports that some of the factors keeping Palestinians in camps include political and social struggles, as well as the physical safety of the camps. The refugee camps also stand as a symbol for the temporal situation of a people still asking to return to their homes.
  10. Even after many decades of displacement due to struggles with the Israeli government, Palestinians cannot return to their homes within the state of Israel in most cases. The peace process between Israel and Palestine has been slow, and most of the deliberations have not accounted for refugee rights.

The Israeli government must find a way to ensure the rights of Israeli refugees, whether they are from Palestine, Africa or anywhere else. Considering the current lack of legislative support for Israeli refugees, the refugee protests and pushes from the Supreme Court are a crucial foundation for ensuring the rights of these people.

Addie Pazzynski

Photo: Flickr

typhoid_outbreak
The United Nations (U.N.) is calling for access to Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in the outskirts of Damascus, due to the increasing evidence of a typhoid outbreak. As of Sept. 20, a total of 90 cases has been reported.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) discovered the outbreak in August among Palestinian refugees outside Syria’s capital after conducting more than 500 medical exams.

The agency was able to gain access to one of the areas affected and established a mobile health point, which provides limited health care, water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, according to a UNRWA spokesperson.

Before the Syrian war began in 2011, there were 160,000 Palestinians in the Yarmouk camp, many of which were employed.

In late March of 2015 when the Islamic State entered the camp, there were 18,000 refugees. Since then, several thousand have fled and the U.N. has no access to the camp. ISIL left days later, but they still have a heavy presence on the al-Nursa Front.

Access has been blocked by the government as a result of clashes with rebels in December 2012. In addition, the government controls the entrance to the camp and sets limits on food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies that enter, claims the Jafra Foundation.

The organization adds that people are trapped inside with very little resources and estimates that there are about 5,000 to 8,000 people left within Yarmouk.

Other affected areas of the typhoid outbreak are Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham.

UNRWA’s $15 million Syria Crisis Program has only gotten 30.8 percent of the fund it needs for this year. The current situation is so dire that 95 percent of Palestinian refugees depend on UNRWA for their daily need of water, food and health care.

Additional help in priority intervention includes cash assistance, which can help up to 470,000 Palestinian refugees. There is still additional funding needed for critical non-food items such as blankets, mattresses and hygiene kits.

Typhoid is a life-threatening illness caused by bacteria in Salmonella typhi and spread by eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disease can be treated with antibiotics but can be fatal in some cases. UNRWA is administering antibiotics, giving out water purifying tablets and educating the population.

Paula Acevedo

Sources: Aljazeera, Associated Press, U.N. News Centre
Photo: Wikimedia

Typhoid_Outbreak
The U.N. Relief and Works Agency’s (UNWRA) health program has dramatically decreased the risk of communicable and vaccine-preventable diseases among Palestinian refugees in Syria. However, doing such great work is challenging among crowded refugee camps that are not easily accessible. The threat of contagious diseases is always present.

The threat of a potential typhoid outbreak spreading to the capital of Damascus was prevalent in July, had UNWRA not been allowed to help. The largest “unofficial” camp at Yarmouk emptied of Palestinian refugees after fighting began between Islamic State, local groups and government forces. Refugees are temporarily in Yalda and other towns close by controlled by armed groups that have reached deals with the government. The groups have strong leaders and civilian committees that collaborate with UN agencies.

UNWRA was able to deliver whatever was needed to refugees between April 23 and June 8. They provided 6,000 food parcels each month, and healthcare. Since June 8, UNWRA has no longer been allowed, as a result of assassinations in Yalda, supposedly by insurgents. Those inaccessible places saw the loss of UNWRA host areas for the distribution of water and medical services.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other aid organizations have little access to these areas where there is a strong need for water purification tablets and hygiene kits. In a similar situation last year, access was eventually granted. In other parts of Syria, 10,000 Palestinians have been displaced to a small Aleppo camp with no electricity or water. To the east of Aleppo city, the large Neirab camp is under government control.

UNWRA has done everything it can in the places it can access. UNWRA staff wasted no time when they heard about the potential typhoid outbreak in Yarmouk. They took blood and water samples from those who showed symptoms, and within 24 hours typhoid medicine was delivered to Yarmouk. Currently, the number of cases is decreasing and under control.

UNWRA is hopeful about preventing outbreaks, with its rapid response of reporting cases to UNWRA senior staff, having medicine in Damascus office and 3 month supply kept at clinics. The concern for areas that are not easily accessible is still present.

Agencies are preparing for worsening conditions in Deraa and Aleppo. Before the conflict started in 2011, there were 560,000 Palestinian refugees registered with the UNWRA in Syria; today, there are 480,000, 95 percent of which need constant aid. The number of consultations for medical services has gone up from 100 to 500.

Palestinian refugees are closed off from Jordan and Lebanon, which leaves them with two options: staying in a war zone or being smuggled to Turkey, where they will take unreliable boats to Europe.

UNWRA needs $414 million just for Syria this year due to the 2014 appeal being only half funded. Due to under-funding, it will have to postpone the school year for 700 schools for half a million children unless they receive $101 million from donors by August. A source believes they should qualify, considering they are one of the countries taking part in the US-led campaign against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, which already has cost $5 billion.

UNWRA devotes half of its budget to education; schools ensure continuity and stability for children in conflicted Syria and Gaza, unstable Lebanon, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Jordan, all trying to manage the influx of Palestinian and Syrian refugees.

In the past decade, donor contributions have not kept up with population growth. UNWRA offers protection and services to 5 million refugees, but it currently only has enough money to provide relief and healthcare, leaving education out of the equation.

Paula Acevedo

Sources: Europa, Irish Times
Photo: Mashable

UNRWA Funding Gap May Prevent Palestinian Students from Going to School
The U.N. Relief and Works Agency was set to run out of money in September due to a $100 million funding gap. As of Aug. 19, $70 million in last-minute donations were reported from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S., Britain and Sweden. As a result, the funding gap is now $22 million but luckily, services will continue.

The last minute donations came right before the school year is about to start, averting the closure of 700 schools that educate half a million children. The schools have already been forced to increase their class size from 38 to 43. UNRWA already had cut 85 percent of its short-term contracts with international consultants.

As of July, the U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugees was facing its biggest funding crisis since it started in 1948, which would have led to a hold in the school year and not being able to help the displaced people in Yarmouk camp near Damascus.

UNRWA receives most of its funding from a small number of donors, primarily the U.S., Saudi Arabia, E.U. and the U.K. Just Syria needs $415 million and UNRWA only has 27 percent of that. Why is the funding gap so wide, one may ask?

According to UNRWA’s commissioner general, Pierre Krahenbruhl, “Palestinian refugees are facing their most severe situation since 1948. They have had 50 years of occupation, nine years of a blockade in Gaza and now five years of conflict in Syria. When you look at all of that, how much more can they absorb?”

He spoke with The Guardian about how the four year war in Syria, siege of Yarmouk, and continuous blockade of Gaza has all led to the depletion of UNRWA’s finances and Palestinians facing the greatest crisis since the Arab-Israeli war in 1948.

In the past four years, about 60,000 Palestinians have left Syria and joined long-term refugees who have lived in camps in Jordan and Lebanon for decades.

Krahenbuhl has gone to the E.U. and U.K. government to secure funding. He believes young people without school will leave them susceptible to radicalization, given the instability in the region. He also believes many refugees may try to migrate to Europe.

UNRWA works with 600,000 Palestinians still in Syria, 2 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, 1.2 million in Gaza, 700,000 in West Bank, and 300,000 in Lebanon. UNRWA is doing great work for people that are in dire circumstances, so one would think it could receive more donations from more donors.

Paula Acevedo

Sources: Seattle Pi, The Guardian
Photo: Flickr

refugee_children
When we reminisce about our childhood afternoons spent in school, they usually include fond memories immersed in boundless creativity and new learning experiences.

Although we likely did not realize it at the time, these crucial hours of education contributed to our empowerment to become smart and driven citizens within our communities.

Imagine what missing just a year of schooling would mean for a child.

This year, 500,000 Palestinian refugee children will start school on time due to last-minute donations which secured funding for the upcoming school year.

“There had been warnings that the school year in 685 UN-run schools would be delayed for months because the agency was short of $101 million to fund the 2015-16 academic year. Protests against the potential move were held by Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and by staff at the agency’s headquarters in Amman,” states an article by A World at School.

The Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl of the United Nations Work and Relief Agency (UNRWA) an agency for Palestinian refugees, announced that $80 million had come in allowing students to return to school within the countries of Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

According to A World at School, for students, this means schools will reopen in Palestine on August 24, in Jordan on September 1, in Lebanon on September 7 and in Syria on September 13.

The UNRWA recognizes the importance of education and was disheartened by the potential risk of schools not opening due to a funding shortfall. With the danger of millions of children being robbed of their education in a time of great conflict caused by war zones and migration, the ability of so many children to stay in school is a tremendous achievement.

Currently, the UNRWA describes themselves as a human development and humanitarian service, which “encompass primary and vocational education, primary health care, relief and social services, infrastructure and camp improvement, microfinance and emergency response, including in situations of armed conflict.”

Today, the UNRWA has contributed to 479, 519 student’s educations, awarded 344,493 loans to those in financial need and supported 301,015 refugees through the Social Safety Net.

It is only through the support and patronage of others that schools have the hope of thriving and remaining open for students.

Nikki Schaffer

Sources: UNRWA, A World at School
Photo: Pixabay