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OFID, UNRWA inaugurate new schools for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

VIENNA, Sept 30 (KUNA) -- Wael Abu-Faor, Minister of Social Affairs of Lebanon representing the Prime Minister of Lebanon; Mr. Suleiman J. Al-Herbish, Director-General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID); Mr. Filippo Grandi, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA); and Dr. Abdallah Abdallah, Ambassador of Palestine to Lebanon have inaugurated three schools of the Nahr El-Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp (NBC) in Lebanon.
In a press statement issued Friday, OFID said the initiative is substantially co-financed by OFID with a USD 5 million-grant extended to UNRWA in 2008.
With OFID's support, two school complexes (Mount Tabor and Amqa) were newly constructed and furnished as well as one school (Toubas and Ein Karma) newly furnished and equipped.
The construction works facilitate the transfer of more than 4,400 students to new premises and classrooms in the 2011/2012 academic year. The Amqa complex will host the only secondary school in the UNRWA compound and will also allow some 150 boys and girls to receive vocational training through the Northern Wing Sibleen Training Centre.
Mr. Al-Herbish commended UNRWA and its partners for their efforts and impressive job in the reconstruction of the Nahr el Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp.
He reaffirmed that OFID places the suffering of the Palestinian people at its highest priority and that the OFID Grant Account for Palestine is accorded high importance in the institution's activities.
He further disclosed that UNRWA is one of the oldest partners of OFID in Palestine and that in the past decade this cooperation had taken on a new maturity.
"Today, I address the families and children of Nahr el Bared and convey to them the unwavering support of OFID. The past suffering and survival through such hardship will always resonate in our hearts and push us to continue to do more, specifically capacity building as a cornerstone of sustainable development " he concluded.
"Today, we are at a site of previous suffering which is now finally restored to what we see today, an improved future" Mr. Abu-Faor said at the inauguration ceremony.
He added that "there has to be more work and coordination to give Palestinian people their human rights and their dignity".
Mr. Grandi thanked OFID for its continuous and generous support to UNRWA, particularly its commitment to promoting the education of young Palestinians.
"Improving the education of Palestine refugees is essential for the improvement of their living conditions in general." He told the refugees of Nahr el Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp that they have shown dignity and strength over these past four years, despite the intolerable conditions and prolonged displacement. Neither UNRWA, nor its partners, he argued, will stop until the reconstruction of Palestinian homes is achieved.
OFID's cooperation with UNRWA began in 1979. Assistance was then directed to support Vocational Training Programs in several Palestinian Camps.
In the last 10 years, OFID has expanded its collaboration with UNRWA through the establishment of PalFund in which USD10 million have been engaged toward financing micro-entrepreneurs across the West Bank and Gaza.
In 2009, on the sidelines of UNRWA's 60th Anniversary, OFID launched the UNRWA Scholarship Fund for talented Palestinians in Vienna with a grant of USD1.2 million. The accumulated engagement with UNRWA is over USD28 million.
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