Hello, I’m Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration. I am pleased to discuss United States support to UNRWA and to the Palestinian people and our commitment to the education of Palestinian children and youth. Since 2010, we have funded the construction of 18 school buildings in Gaza, in addition to UNRWA schools in Jordan and the West Bank.
Why do we fund schools? Because we believe that education forms a foundation for progress and peace and that education offers Palestinian daughters and sons a chance to build a pathway to development for the entire community. An education is one of the most important and most powerful things a refugee needs.
A school building alone does not make an education. It takes a community of teachers, administrators, parents, and friends to make education a priority. And, of course, it takes students who strive to learn. It also takes the direction and support of UNRWA, which for years has been a leader of quality education in this region. UNRWA has spearheaded education reforms that enable refugee children and youth to learn to think critically and make informed choices.
We are particularly proud to highlight our support to UNRWA’s human rights curriculum implemented throughout UNRWA’s more than 700 schools. The program promotes non-violence, communication skills, conflict resolution and human rights. It also emphasizes the importance of tolerance and good citizenship, teaching students how to be effective advocates for positive change in their communities.
I was pleased to meet students in this program when they traveled to the United States from Gaza earlier in the year. On their trip, they learned about America and about the United States’ civil rights movement and were able to share with Americans their own experiences in Gaza.
I should also note that the United States is the country that makes the largest financial contribution to UNRWA. Thus far in 2013, we have contributed more than $275 million to UNRWA, including support to the Gaza Field Office’s core programs in health, social services, and education.
In this spirit of continued partnership with UNRWA and Palestinian refugees, I want to conclude by reaffirming that the United States will continue to stand by Palestinian refugees and continue to support UNRWA in offering educational opportunities to young Palestinians. Thank you very much for listening.