Up to 120,000 Palestinian refugee children have returned to 169 UNRWA schools in Jordan for the start of the new academic year. The Hashemite Kingdom hosts 2.3 million registered Palestinian refugees.
Refugee children attend schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) from first grade to 10th grade. They then go to government-run schools or join UNRWA technical training centres.
UNRWA was established in 1948, a year after the Nakba, with the mandate to offer education and humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Since then, more than 2.5 million Palestinian refugees have graduated from the Agency’s schools.
“The fact that children go back to school every year may seem like a very normal thing to many,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl told students from the Nuzha School. “However, for Palestine refugee children, this is possibly the most important day of the year and a sign that dignity is preserved in their lives. Prioritising education not only contributes to human development in this region, but also to its stability pending a just and lasting solution to the plight of Palestine refugees.”
A statement from UNRWA expressed the organisation’s gratitude to all of its partners for the support that has enabled the Agency to open its schools on time. That alone, it added, sends a strong and positive message to hundreds of thousands of students.
UNRWA is dependent on voluntary donations from UN member states. Despite the essential work that it does for refugees, attempts are being made by the anti-Palestinian lobby in Israel and the West to have the Agency closed down. Until August last year, the US was UNRWA’s largest donor state, but President Donald Trump has cut the funding. Washington still gives Israel — a country with a thriving economy and industrial sector — at least $8 million every day in aid.