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UN agency for Palestinian refugees to build green schools in Gaza

(Xinhua)

15:55, December 01, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations relief agency for Palestinian refugees on Wednesday announced that it has formed a partnership with a renowned architect to build 20 environmentally-friendly schools in the Gaza Strip.

The announcement came as the United Nations began the event to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which was observed annually on Nov. 29. At the UN General Assembly, the international community voiced its strong support to the just cause of the Palestinian people.

The green schools will be built by UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in partnership with award-winning architect Mario Cucinella, renowned for green architectural design and technology, UN officials said here on Wednesday.

The blueprint for the "environmental zero impact" schools for the Palestinian people will be showcased at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, said the officials.

"This project is a first for UNRWA, which we hope will lead to the creation of environmentally friendly schools in the five areas where we work," said Filippo Grandi, the UNRWA commissioner- general. Such schools will also be built in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria in future, he said.

"We teach half a million students throughout the Middle East region. UNRWA is grateful to the Kuwait Fund, which is funding the pilot school through the Islamic Development Bank. We hope that all donors will come forward as this exciting initiative moves ahead," Grandi said.

At a cost of two million U.S. dollars -- about the same cost of building a regular UNRWA school -- the schools will provide educational facilities for 800 students each in an atmosphere conducive to the highest levels of academic achievement, the officials said, adding that the schools are self-sustaining in water and energy.

The aim is to promote high academic standards within the schools, while creating greater awareness and respect for the environment outside, the officials added.

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