Vocational Education Training in PalestineSeeing the role vocational education could play in Palestine, the League of Vocational Education and Training started operations in the early 2000s. The organization now has 16 members throughout Palestine, offering learning opportunities to students from various backgrounds. With Vocational Education and Training in Palestine, students have a chance to work toward a better future for themselves and their families.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)

The UNRWA is a U.N. agency that supports Palestinian refugees. The agency offers its support through vocational training and education offered to young Palestinian refugees. It manages eight training centers with semi-professional, trade and short-term courses in a variety of specializations that aim to prepare students for local employment. The region’s economic and social stability benefits from the specializations which include construction, nursing, hairdressing and fashion. The program has recorded significant success, reaching more than 123,000 graduates as of 2020. Even more, graduates of the program enjoy high success rates in finding employment or self-employment.

The UNRWA also supports young women through its training program. Out of the 7,930 trainees who graduated from the program in 2021, more than 3,500 were female.

Lutheran World Federation Vocational Training Program

The Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem runs another initiative tagged the Vocational Training Program (VTP). This initiative has served as one path for Palestinians to receive vocational training, even through programs specifically designed for blind students, since 1949.

The VTP works actively to strengthen gender equity in the region by providing culturally accepted training to young women. One such example is training in electronics and telecommunication. The graduating class in 2015, which had 227 students, was 20% female.

With two training centers in Ramallah and Beit Hanina, the VTP is able to train about 210 students every year in fields such as carpentry, auto mechanics and telecommunications. There are even on-site boarding options available for students who have difficulty accessing the schools due to checkpoints and the Separation Wall. Short courses are also available in villages and refugee camps.

East Jerusalem YMCA

The YMCA operates a Vocational Training Center in East Jerusalem that aims to reduce poverty and provide Palestinian youth with opportunities for personal and professional growth. In addition to vocational courses, the center offers career counseling, dormitory space and a daycare nursery. These amenities are particularly beneficial for young women seeking enrollment in the program.

Graduates of Vocational Education and Training in Palestine have improved expectations for their future. In fact, 82% of graduates expect a better chance of finding employment while a higher 88% expect to start earning income after completing their programs.

These high expectations happen to be evident in employment rates too. While roughly 30% of Palestinian youth are employed or seeking employment, the number is 90% for Vocational Education and Training graduates.

Hope for Palestinians

Providing individuals with access to education and training could help in reducing poverty, as it presents an opportunity for personal and professional growth. In Palestine, education and vocational training play a vital role in providing youth with the means to build a better future. The region boasts several vocational training centers that offer equal opportunities for young Palestinians of any economic, disability or gender status to become qualified for employment within their communities.

– Christina Albrecht
Photo: Flickr

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon
In an essay on humanitarian purpose, Ilana Feldman expressed a sentiment that many humanitarian workers share. She expressed hopelessness in her ability to alter the lives of suffering Palestinians. She believes that this despondency has led many humanitarian workers to promote endurance and resilience within a harsh reality. Instead of a determination to alter this reality, Palestinian refugees must endure it, including those in Lebanon. This hopelessness was not as prevalent in 1947.

The Nakba

Between 1947 and 1949, the flight of Palestinians reached staggering numbers. By 1949, approximately 750,000 Palestinians had fled Israel. According to the Palestinian narrative, these refugees underwent forcible expulsion. In fact, evidence exists to suggest this. One Israeli intelligence document estimates that 75% of Palestinians fled as a result of Zionist military action. Israelis claim otherwise.

Their flight followed the U.N. partition plan. In 1947, because of increasing feuds between the Palestinian, British and Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, the British decided to end its mandate over Palestine and transfer control to the U.N. general assembly. The U.N. chose to partition Palestine into two separate states. The Jews would receive around 56% of the land, and the Arabs would receive around 43%.

The majority of Arabs, however, experienced disillusionment with this outcome, as their population outweighed Jews by more than half a million. Thus, the ensuing war led to what Arabs term the nakba or the catastrophe and what Zionists term the Israeli War for Independence. This nomenclature highlights the contrasting narratives of the Palestinians-Israeli conflict.

After the Israeli victory in 1948, many of the 750,000 Palestinian refugees fled to neighboring countries. One of these countries was Lebanon. Today, the number of Palestinian refugees has risen to approximately 5 million. As many as 476,000 reside in Lebanon and are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

The Weight of Economic Decline on Palestinians

On August 4, 2020,  catastrophe plagued Lebanon. A port in Beirut housing ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical, exploded. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 178 people have died and 300,000 people are homeless as a result of the explosion. These conspicuous hardships accompany economic decline.

Approximately half the population lives below the poverty line, and the Lebanese currency has dropped by 80%. Before the explosion and the rise of COVID-19, the debt was nearly $80 billion, the third-highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the world. Some ascribed this economic crisis to corruption. Others believed it was the vestiges of the 15-year Lebanese civil war. Today, the debt is $93.4 billion, an 8.9% increase from February 2020.

Such circumstances have disproportionately affected Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The financial crisis has fostered a decline in services provided by the UNRWA, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA). For years, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon could not obtain employment in as many as 39 different professions.

Today, the financial crisis has bred unemployment for the few Palestinians fortunate enough to receive employment in Lebanon. In conjunction with inadequate electricity and a lack of clean water, the 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon have also experienced a spike in depression.


Despite grim circumstances, various organizations—the Lebanese Red Cross, the Lebanese Food Bank, Impact Lebanon and the Amel Association–have raised millions of dollars to assuage the economic and health-related impacts of the explosion. Additionally, the UNRWA is ameliorating the spread of COVID-19. Efforts range from regular sterilization of camps to education on the virus for Palestinian refugees. Much more can occur to acknowledge the plight of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and the opportunity to return to their self-proclaimed homeland is still a distant hope. But these efforts do not simply contribute to endurance for Palestinian refugees. They do not amount to a default outcome. Though they should feel unsatisfying to any ambitious humanitarian worker, they still render real-world outcomes for Palestinian refugees. Amid growing hopelessness, that is nonetheless something to praise.

Blake Dysinger
Photo: Flickr

peace in palestine
The current issue between Israel and Palestine is a critical conflict as Palestinians face possible annexation from regions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, affecting 2.1 to 3 million Palestinians. The political strife has been off and on for approximately 100 years as the possibility of annexation becomes a reality. However, the questions of education, healthcare and human rights become prevalent when considering Palestine and its people. Here’s what you need to know about the problem with peace in Palestine.

The Conflict

Palestine and Isreal’s conflict of political power stems from the want for the same land and the power over it. With Isreal already in control of 60% of the West Bank and looking to control upwards of 30% more, Palestinians are worried about their homes and lives as they could force individuals to leave as a result. For many Palestinians, the overall result of the annex is hard to determine, but United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights leader Michelle Bachelet states, “shockwaves of the annexation will last for decades.” As annexation is illegal in terms of international law and is a violation of human rights, the result of backlash is expected.

In 2019, Isreal destroyed hundreds of properties in the West Bank for a lack of approved permits, many of which were owned by Palestinians who had built homes without proper licenses. Although they’ve built homes without authorization, Palestinians may only get construction approved by the Israelis. More often than not, they are denied.

The destruction of these areas can be detrimental to many individuals and any future of peace in Palestine. Palestinian refugees are offered services from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to cater to basic needs such as education, healthcare, shelter and more. The agency 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.”

Impact on Education

As a result of violence, many are concerned about the safety of children, educational systems and peace in Palestine. Threats of destruction complicate the route to school as students or teachers may be stopped at security checkpoints, and past violence has occurred by Israeli forces. An estimated 19,000 children were involved in the 111 different educational inference cases in the West Bank documented by the UN in 2018.

In 2018, the UNRWA endured a sizeable financial burden as a result of the American government’s decision to decrease the budget for that year. This was the most significant budget cut in history for the agency, resulting in a loss of $300 million for the year. For many, school is supposed to represent a safe and comfortable environment. As a result of the new budget, children and families worried they would not be able to return to school. This led to the UNRWA launching the Dignity is Priceless campaign, a global fundraising campaign advocating for student’s educational and health needs. The campaign’s purpose was to ensure that there would be enough funding and support to reopen the doors. It led the way for other organizations to support education funding.

Campaigns for Aid

Many organizations are standing in support of peace in Palestine, looking to help during this significant humanitarian crisis. UNICEF is working to make an impact in these communities that now lack necessities like drinking water and unsafe access to education. UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children 2020 has accepted $13.7 million in funding, improving access to water for over 30,000 persons and providing water tanks to over 4,100 households. By the end of 2019, they continued to support Palestine’s education system assessing that 6,200 children safely accessed school, and 90,000 students could participate in summer activities.

For many children in Palestine, education is a want, not a given opportunity. The Rights to Education (Right2Edu) campaign strives to bring awareness to the importance of education for Palestinian children and to the hardship’s educational systems face. At the same time, there is a struggle for peace in Palestine. Right2Edu began assisting students and faculty who would be subjected to arrests of the Israeli troops and provides legal assistance to those who may have experienced an educational interference on their way to or from school. The Rights to Education’s primary mission is to pursue the human right of education for all.

The struggle for peace between the two states continues to be an uphill battle. With an emphasis on the future of children in Palestine, 3 campaigns from NGOs show their support through campaigns and field visits to continue to provide supplies and hope for those in Palestine.

Allison Lloyd
Photo: Flickr

Threatens Millions of Palestinians
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was established in 1949, after the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, in order to offer relief and works programs for Palestinian refugees. Since its inception, UNRWA has gone from helping some 750,000 Palestinian refugees to approximately 5 million Palestinians today.


Funded entirely by the contributions of U.N. member nations, UNRWA directs its efforts towards services ranging from education to healthcare to microfinance. Their budget is divided into 54 percent to education, 17 percent to health, 16 percent to support services, 9 percent to relief and social services, and 4 percent to infrastructure and camp improvement.

Unfortunately, these services are at risk due to a potential $250 million shortfall. A significant decline in the United States’ contribution, from $364 million last year to $60 million this year is said to be responsible for the shortage of funds.

Impact in Syria

Amidst the destructive conflict in Syria, 560,000 Palestinian refugees are among the worst affected. Through the Syria Crisis Response Plan, UNRWA provides vital humanitarian assistance through emergency healthcare, education, food and household items. In Syria alone, $411 million is necessary to maintain these crucial provisions.

The UNRWA has provided 44,000 young Palestinian refugees with the opportunity to pursue primary and secondary education. However, if the funding shortage cannot be met, their safety, as well as their education, is at risk.

Impact in Gaza

Through 22 health centers, UNRWA provides healthcare services to over 1.2 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza. Due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza and limited resources available, UNRWA also offers emergency food assistance to 830,000 Palestinian refugees living below the poverty line as well as 45,870 cash-for-work opportunities and counseling for upwards of 25,000 refugee children. Funding shortages place all of these essential services at risk.

UNRWA has 252 schools in Gaza that educate more than 240,400 students. These schools now face a similar, bleak fate to their Syrian counterparts should this massive funding gap fail to be filled. Aside from providing students a basic education, many of these schools include a dedicated human rights curriculum that promotes conflict resolution.

Impact in the West Bank

Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank are also at significant risk should the UNRWA not be able to resolve its funding shortage. UNRWA provides emergency food assistance to almost 36,000 households, in addition to working to improve camp environments for female and youth refugees. In 2012, for example, UNRWA assisted 113,374 food-insecure Palestinian refugees.

Significance of UNRWA Funding

According to Pierre Krahenbuhl, the commissioner general of the UNRWA, the most urgent threat the funding shortage poses is to emergency food aid to Palestinians in Gaza and Syria. However, the UNRWA has also been instrumental in offering high-quality education throughout the region, promoting gender equality, providing near-universal immunization, investing in small businesses, and providing food assistance to 1.7 million refugees.

What do all of these services have in common? They have been integral to raising Palestinian refugees out of poverty and ensuring basic human rights. We cannot allow UNRWA’s efforts to disappear. Failure to offer these resources threatens millions of Palestinians and only guarantees continued hardship for their communities and the region. 

– McAfee Sheehan
Photo: Flickr

Israeli encroachment on Palestinian territory began in 1967 and has since established frameworks for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement on the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. Since the Trump administration has transitioned to the White House, Israel has announced the expansion of 4,000 new illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.

Legislation to build the new settlements would violate international law, especially considering that Palestinians possess title deeds to prove ownership of occupied land. U.N. Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) defines that Palestinian territory settled upon by Israelis would constitute “flagrant violation” of international law.

The bill to facilitate illegal settlements in the West Bank is highly controversial. Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, is in opposition to its passage and promised to fight against it in the Supreme Court.

Netanyahu also perceives that the Trump administration will facilitate “significant opportunities” succeeding Obama’s policies in the Middle East that he cites as “huge pressures.” The creation of new illegal Israeli settlements in the region would be the first in 25 years.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) cites that there are almost 775,000 registered Palestinian refugees in the West Bank. A quarter of these refugees live across 19 camps and the rest in towns and villages. At least 270 Palestinians have been displaced and forced from their homes since the beginning of 2017.

U.S. foreign aid to Palestine began in the mid-1990s following the onset of “limited Palestinian self-rule” in Gaza and the West Bank. The U.S. is the largest single-state donor to the UNRWA and has committed more than $5 billion in bilateral aid to assist in decreasing terrorism against Israel, promote efficient governing infrastructures that could lead to regional peace and to provide humanitarian aid.

Amber Bailey

Photo: Flickr