The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) concluded a one-year project on “Education in Emergencies for Palestine Refugee Children – Phase III” which was implemented from October 2021 to October 2022, thanks to a EUR 3.5 million contribution from the Government of Belgium through its Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation (DGD) and building on previous support.
The project addressed the educational and psychosocial needs of more than 370,000 UNRWA students in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza.
Through its Education in Emergencies (EiE) Programme, UNRWA has continued to strive for the provision of quality, inclusive and equitable education for its students in challenging contexts. The generous contribution from the Government of Belgium has contributed to mitigating some of the socio-economic barriers to accessing quality education for vulnerable Palestine refugee students – many of whom are at risk of leaving school – by providing schools supplies for families who cannot afford to buy them for their children; school transportation for children where schools are far away; and assistive devices for children with chronic diseases or disabilities.
The project has also helped to ensure that students and teachers are learning and teaching in a safe and secure environment by facilitating more than fifty risk assessments and the rehabilitation/maintenance of schools to mitigate identified risks.
The psychosocial well-being of children is central to their right to quality education, more so for children affected by conflict. To this end, the project deployed over 100 school counsellors. This will help children to strengthen their resilience and coping mechanisms, particularly when faced with stress and/or trauma. In addition, UNRWA was able to procure materials for recreational activities that have further helped children develop knowledge and skills that can facilitate their positive engagement with their peers, friends, family and the wider community. Finally, thanks to the support, UNRWA was able to refurbish dedicated recreational spaces to ensure access to recreational activities for all children, including children with disabilities.
This generous contribution from the Government of Belgium towards the EiE Programme has continued to build on a partnership that began in 2016 with Phase I, Phase II and Phase III, which concluded in 2022. This partnership has helped to strengthen the UNRWA education programme, addressing the most urgent educational and psychosocial needs of UNRWA students.
It has also allowed students and staff to better cope with the many emergencies that have affected Palestine refugees and improve the overall emergency preparedness of the Agency at headquarters, field and school levels in light of protracted crises in Gaza, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Syria, economic setbacks in Lebanon and increased social and economic pressures in Jordan.