Three hundred and fourteen Palestine refugee students in Lebanon complete short-term vocational courses at the Siblin Training Centre

Under the patronage of the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Matthias Schmale, and with the generous support of the British Embassy to Lebanon, the UNRWA Siblin Training Centre (South and North Campuses) held two graduation ceremonies for the 314 Palestine refugee students from Lebanon and Syria who completed short-term vocational training courses at the Centre in 2016. The ceremony in the South Campus was held on Wednesday, 13 July 2016, and was attended by Mr. Schmale; His Excellency, the British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter; and the Cultural Attaché of the Palestinian Embassy in Lebanon, Maher Mshe’il, as well as national and international partners, representatives of Palestinian factions, mayors, UNRWA staff, school principals and teachers, and the families of the graduating students. A separate graduation ceremony for the North Campus was held the following day.

Speaking on behalf of the graduates, Doua Jawdat Mouhieddine, a Palestine refugee from Syria in Lebanon and a graduate of the programme, thanked all of the parties that made the day possible and described the training as “a means to improve and develop students’ vocational, work and life skills and to prepare them for the labour market.” She added, “It is very useful training for Palestinian youth, especially our colleagues who moved from Syria to Lebanon to escape the war.”

The Director of the Siblin Training Centre, Samer Serhan, thanked the British government for funding the project, as well as the UNRWA administration and staff who worked hard to facilitate a second afternoon shift and the graduation of the high-quality trainees. Addressing the graduates, Mr. Serhan said: “My advice to you is to work hard, for knowledge and excellence need continuous learning. Today, you face a great challenge, which is to enter the labour market. I want you to trust that we will always support you. Your success is the pride of all Palestine refugees.”

Stressing the Agency’s commitment to improving livelihoods for Palestine refugees in Lebanon, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon Matthias Schmale congratulated the students and said, “Today we celebrate your achievements as an important step towards overcoming the challenging employment conditions faced by Palestine refugees. Congratulations to you on your determination to improve your chances to overcome adversity. With the help of partners such as DFID, UNRWA will continue to explore ways to invest in your futures and advocate for increased livelihood opportunities.”

H.E. British Ambassador Hugo Shorter said, “Today, I’ve heard how, guided by market demand, Palestinian youth are receiving vocational training with UK support. I’ve heard moving stories showing great dignity amid challenges. Through the UK’s projects in Lebanon, we will continue to improve the living and humanitarian conditions of refugees – wherever they may come from.” He added: “I know that many children in Palestinian camps and gatherings in Lebanon drop out of primary and secondary schools and few feel able to complete higher education. In the face of challenging circumstances, I am struck by the resilience and determination of young Palestine refugees living in Lebanon. I am also pleased that the courses offered opportunities for all, young women and young men, and for the first time included Palestinian young people from both Lebanon and Syria.”

The 2016 programme of short-term courses at the Siblin Training Centre, generously funded by DFID, was established in order to improve, through vocational education, the ability of young Palestine refugees to provide for themselves. During their vocational training, students received the necessary tools to tackle the job market. Eighteen vocational courses were established under this project, including Secretary, Arts and Crafts, Cosmetics and Beauty Culture, Building Craftsmanship, General Carpentry, Photography and Video Editing, Solar Energy and General Plumbing, Air Conditioning Service, Electrical Installations, Aluminium Works, General Welding, Computer Maintenance and Surveillance Equipment, and Diesel Mechanics. All courses were accompanied by English lessons provided by the Lebanese International University. The courses ended in June 2016.

The ceremony concluded with the distribution of diplomas to the graduates.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 74 million. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance .