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Diplomacy in Action

Inauguration of Zarqa Girls' School

Eric P. Schwartz
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
Zarqa Camp
Zarqa, Jordan
November 16, 2009


Thank you. It is wonderful to be here in Jordan. I would like to thank UNRWA Director Richard Cook for organizing today’s inauguration ceremony, and to recognize and commend UNRWA Commissioner General Karen AbuZayd for her leadership of the agency over the past four years. I also wish to thank my colleague Ambassador Beecroft for the embassy’s support of UNRWA’s activities.

On behalf of the Obama Administration, I’m gratified to be here today to officially open the new Zarqa Preparatory Girls’ School, which will benefit over 700 Palestinian children and their families. In 2007, the U.S. Government contributed $1.48 million toward the reconstruction of three separate schools, now housed in this one building. I anticipate that the students and their parents will be, like families the world over, delighted with the prospect of a new school.

UNRWA is well known for providing quality, universal education in all its operational fields. I am confident that the Zarqa Preparatory School will be a place where girls will have a chance to learn how they can become full members and leaders of their community. As I look out at the many bright young faces in the crowd today, so eager to learn and take advantage of the opportunities that will be afforded by this fine school, I’m reminded of my own two daughters and the hopes and aspirations their mother and I have for their educations and their futures. I’m proud to be here today among the many parents who are hoping that the opening of this school will mark a bright time in the lives of the many girls here today and those that will attend this institution in the years to come.

We believe this school will help to build the capacity of the future Palestinian state by educating its future leaders. I truly believe I’m standing today among young women who will become the doctors, teachers, scientists, government workers and politicians who will help lead the Palestinian people to a prosperous and peaceful future.

I’m here today to reinforce the message that the U.S. Government and the American people are working with you to meet that goal, and we will remain committed to helping meet the needs of Palestinian refugees in the region until there is a just and lasting solution to the current conflict.

The United States partnership with UNRWA is longstanding and strong; the U.S. Government is UNRWA's largest bilateral donor. We contributed nearly $268 million this year. A significant portion of our contribution supports the almost 2 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan. As part of our support, the USG contributed $1.8 million in funds this year to support the reconstruction of UNRWA's health clinic in Wahadat Camp, which provides health services to over 50,000 refugees.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to recognize and thank the Jordanian government for hosting Palestinian refugees for the past 60 years. You have generously welcomed them and provided them with opportunities and tools to help recognize their full potential and build a better future for their families.

Thank you once more for involving me in this welcome event.

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