The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has said that the world does not understand the suffering of the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, reports Quds Press. Pierre Krähenbühl made his comment at a press conference in a refugee school in Gaza to celebrate the start of the new academic year.
"Gaza residents are deprived of the basics simple rights," Krähenbühl pointed out. "These children represent hundreds of thousands of Palestine refugee students in UNRWA's areas of operation who regularly struggle to access schools because of checkpoints or conflict just to be able to enjoy a basic human right: access to education."
Everyone at UNRWA, he said, salutes the young girls and boys who dream of a future, whether it is to become teachers, athletes, engineers or presidents. "We also salute the teachers, the school counsellors, the school principals and their deputies, and all school staff whose dedication and commitment are key to our entire educational structure."
The Agency is facing a number of challenges in an unsympathetic political climate. Major donors have suspended payments to UNRWA, or cancelled them altogether.
Nevertheless, Krähenbühl stressed that, "Opening UNRWA schools [for the new academic year] would not have been possible without the commitment of our numerous supporters, partners, donors and hosts, to whom we are immensely grateful. Even when UNRWA is facing monumental political and financial challenges, keeping children in schools is key to their well-being and that of their communities, as well as key to stability in Gaza and beyond."
The Gaza Strip has been under strict and ongoing Israeli siege since 2006. A UN report has warned that if the siege is not lifted, the coastal enclave will be "unliveable" by 2020.