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Palestinian refugees receive a “passport to dignity” with renewed education

For refugee children, schools are sometimes the only safe and fertile environment around. They connect students to the broader world and to one another. They also allow students to forget about their plight for a while by learning how to aspire to a better future.

But too often refugees do not receive an adequate education. Too often, resources cannot be corralled and large stretches of uncertainty and inaction take place.

This limbo zone can stunt a child’s intellectual growth and lead him or her down a dark path.

Palestinian children have been susceptible to disrupted education for many years.

In the summer of 2014, for instance, Israeli airstrikes destroyed or partially destroyed 327 schools.

Three hundred and twenty seven schools.

Thousands and thousands of students were suddenly uprooted from learning. I can’t even imagine how devastating that must be for children, parents and teachers.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) takes on the brunt of educating Palestinians in conflict-areas.

Classroom in GazaImage: Al Jazeera English

The agency helps to educate around 5 million Palestinian refugees in more than 685 schools across Gaza, the West Bank and neighboring areas.

Although it is struggling to meet budget needs, UNRWA has announced that more than 500,000 Palestinian refugees will return to the classroom this fall, after a period of uncertainty threatened to leave them in limbo.

Ban Ki-moon said, “This achievement cannot be underestimated at a time of rising extremism in one of the world’s most unstable regions. [For Palestine refugees] education is a passport to dignity. We must stand by them and the agency that serves them.”

This is an important step towards achieving stability in ruptured areas. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and the US have all stepped up recently to get the UNRWA closer to its operating budget, but more still has to be gathered.

Other countries around the world have to fill the remaining gap of about $20 million USD, an investment that will undoubtedly have robust returns in the future.

Child refugees are especially vulnerable to the turmoil of conflict. But a sound education can be both an anchor for them to hold onto and a beacon signaling a brighter future. 

If you agree, then TAKE ACTION NOW by signing a petition to get world leaders to commit to universal education.