1047992091_075d045838Using American 20 thousand dollars of American funding, UNRWA has opened the first information technology centre for Palestinian refugees in Hims. The centre houses a library and a computer lab equipped with 25 computers. Three speeches were delivered during the inauguration ceremony. The first was by Ms Angela Williams, director of UNRWA affairs in Syria, who noted that this was the first centre in Syria to be supplied with a computer lab, stressing the importance of introducing information technology throughout the various levels of the educational system and pointing to the Agency’s efforts to equip 115 schools in Syria with an adequate supply of computers.

The centre, she maintained, was an important first step in this process. It will be “opened after school hours to the local society, to enable refugees to benefit from the equipment to improve their skills and develop their personal interests.” This speech was followed by another by Ms Skobi*, the United States’ ambassador to Syria who argued that the centre stands as a witness to the great achievements that may be realised through co-operation between UNRWA, the host state and donor states. The centre was one of the various private projects funded by the United States to help the Agency ameliorate and preserve its infrastructure and introduce a “new advanced programme to the Agency’s activity areas”.

She added: “We firmly believe that education will form the basis for building the future of Palestinians. In fact, projects such as this one offer Palestinians an opportunity to show their famous love of knowledge and affirm it…” The Ambassador furthermore stressed that her country remains committed to the building of a secure future for all Palestinians, referring to the American president’s assertions in his 24/6/2002 speech, of the United State’s heavy involvement in the two-state solution “Israel-Palestine”, which live side by side “in peace security and dignity”. “Until that is achieved, she continued, the international community must rely on UNRWA and support it as far as possible”.

She concluded her speech with the words: “The computer centre is only an embodiment of the United States’ great commitment to UNRWA and Palestinian refugees… The United States will continue to provide UNRWA with its strong support whenever it is needed. For my government, UNRWA is an indispensable partner in providing Palestinian refugees with humanitarian services”. The concluding speech came from Mr Ali Mustafa, director general of the General Institution of Arab Palestinian Refugees, who welcomed the initiative, which he argued he regarded as an incentive for Palestinians to progress further in the study of advanced sciences.

But he also saw it as presenting Palestinians with a cultural impetus to defend their rights, foremost their right to return to the homes they had been driven out of in 1948.

The donations that made it possible for the centre to be erected, he argued, is evidence of the international community’s commitment to supporting the Agency and the rights of Palestinian refugees, pending the just resolution of their problem and the implementation of United Nations’ resolutions, foremost resolution 194.

Mr Mustafa spoke of the Occupying authorities’ aggressive measures against the Palestinian people inside Palestine, the killing, torture, vandalising of institutions, schools and universities, destruction of infrastructures, uprooting of trees, down to the erection of the Apartheid Wall with all the misery it wreaks on the Palestinian people. Israel he said “strives to kill any hope of a comprehensive just peace, but the Palestinian people will continue to confront its aggression until it attains its ends granted by international resolutions, notably Israel’s withdrawal from the territories it occupied in 1967, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital and refugees’ return to their homes. Following the speeches, the audience was taken on a tour of the centre and its computer lab.

The American ambassador chatted to a few students and responded to their questions. The event was concluded with a few musical pieces from Palestinian folklore presented by a group of female Palestinian students from the Ramleh school. It is worth noting that this is the first time the American ambassador visits the Al-Aidin Palestinian refugee camp in Hims.

Source: Damascus- Shireen Al-Shorafy