The Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) “looks set to keep its classrooms open for the rest of the school year, despite earlier fears that they would have to close within the next few weeks, due to steep funding cuts”, the organisation said in a statement yesterday.
The agency’s 711 schools in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, “opened in September for the start of the year, not knowing if they would be able to keep them open until even the end of this month”, UNRWA noted.
Yesterday, however, Matthias Schmale, the head of UNRWA operations in Gaza, said that while the agency still has a deficit in its core programme budget, “we are one and a half months away from the end of the year”.
“If we get to the end of December, we know that there are Member States who committed money for next year. So, I can say now that this school year is basically safe”.
At the beginning of the year, the United States cut back its funding of UNRNWA by some $300 million, “leading to a severe financial crisis which threatened the existence of many of its critical assistance programmes”, the statement added.
“Although the gap is now reduced to $64 million, a strong sign of a collective effort to safeguard its programmes, the difficulties in the region continue”.