Jul 14, 2020

UNRWA - Mobilizing collective action in a challenging world

Kayleigh Shooter
3 min
We take a closer look at UNRWA, a relief and works agency who were featured in our April magazine...

 UNRWA is a UN agency created in December 1949 to support the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees. The UNRWA definition of “refugee” covers Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1948 Palestine War. UNRWA also provides assistance, but not refugee status, to those who fled or were expelled during and following the 1967 Six-Day War. They also apply refugee status to their patrilineal descendants. Originally intended to provide jobs on public works projects and direct relief, today UNRWA provides education, health care, and social services to the population it supports.
UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict and is separate from UNHCR.
UNRWA partners with businesses and foundations, ranging from small local tech companies to large multinationals; they tailor each partnership to make the best use of our partner's expertise and ensure mutual benefit. They also work closely with small community-based organizations and with international NGOs, drawing on their unique resources and strengths to deliver effective services for Palestine refugees.

The agency has recently signed an agreement with the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC) that aims to enhance livelihood and human development opportunities for Palestine refugees in Gaza. The agreement will also enable the UNICC to benefit from the capabilities of UNRWA in the areas of ICT technical capacity augmentation, ICT end-to-end solution delivery, and ICT operation and maintenance support.
Kaan Cetinturk, UNRWA CIO and Director of Information Management and Technology Department, on the partnership: “Through this joint project, young and skilled Palestine refugees will be able to contribute to the digital transformation of the UN in the IT domain without the restrictions of geographic borders.”
In addition, Mr Sameer Chauhan, Director of UNICC added: “This agreement will strengthen the UNICC capacity to deliver reliable ICT services driven by best practices. With its world-class technology and state-of-the-art infrastructure, together with the vast cross-domain experience of its very knowledgeable staff, ICC is always ready to offer UN-friendly shared solutions to United Nations organizations and international institutions with similar missions and value.”

It is well known that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a detrimental impact on the most vulnerable in our society. UNRWA are committed to not letting this happen to the Palestinian refugees.
UNRWA has worked tirelessly throughout the outbreak and are holding a flash appeal. Japan recently contributed US$289,319 to UNRWA Jordan in response to the appeal. The contribution allows the Agency to address the emerging health needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Jordan and ensure the continuity of the The Government of Japan is a dedicated donor to UNRWA, having supported the Agency since 1953.
With the enduring support of donors like the Government of Japan, the Agency is able to provide vital services to Palestine refugees across the Middle East in the face of its continuing challenges with provision of essential health care services to Palestine refugees through 25 UNRWA health centres across the country.  

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Jul 26, 2021

Mark Zuckerberg: from college dropout to billionaire

Mark Zuckerberg
Social Media
Catherine Gray
4 min
As the creator of the most popular social media platform, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg has shaped the way generations communicate online

Mark Zuckerberg is the co-founder and CEO of the popular social networking website, Facebook. Founded out of his college dorm room at university, Zuckerberg left Harvard University in his sophomore year to concentrate on building the Facebook site.

The user base of the website has now grown to more than two billion people, turning Zuckerberg into a billionaire.

Early accomplishments

From an early age, Zuckerberg used his talents to create online applications for his friends and family to use. Around the age of 12, Zuckerberg used Atari BASIC to create messaging program ‘Zucknet’.

Zucknet was used by Edward Zuckerberg, Mark’s father, in his dental office to communicate with this receptionist. The Zuckerberg family also used it within their house.

Throughout his early education, despite excelling in literature and captaining the fencing team, Zuckerberg remained fascinated by computers. In high school, he created an early version of the music software Pandora.

Companies including AOL and Microsoft expressed interest in buying the software, as well as hiring teenage Zuckerberg before graduation. He declined these offers.

Life at Harvard University

By Zuckerberg’s sophomore year he had developed the reputation as the go-to software developer on campus.

In his time at Harvard, as well as developing Facebook, he built programs called CourseMatch and Facemash.

CourseMatch helped students choose their classes based on the course selections of other users.

Facemash compared the pictures of two students on campus, allowing them to vote on who was more attractive. This was later shut down by the school administration after it was deemed inappropriate.

Zuckerberg was sought out to help fellow students Divya Narendra and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss on an idea of their own. The idea, a social networking site they called Harvard Connection, was designed to use information from Harvard’s student network to create a dating site for the Harvard elite.

After agreeing to help, Zuckerberg dropped out to work on his own site, The Facebook.

Founding Facebook

With his friends, Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg created The Facebook. This site allowed users to create their own profiles, upload photos and communicate with others.

The group of friends ran the site out of a dorm room at Harvard University until June 2004. In the same year, Zuckerberg dropped out of university and moved the company to Palo Alto, California.

By the end of 2004, Facebook had 1 million users.

In 2005, Accel invested $12.7 million into the network even though at the time it was only open to Ivy League students.

After granting access to other colleges, schools and international schools to use his site, Zuckerberg’s Facebook grew to more than 5.5 million users by 2005. 

Although companies offered to buy the social networking site, Zuckerberg did not want to sell out. One offer he turned down was a $1bn buyout offer from Yahoo in 2007. Zuckerberg focused instead on expanding the site and opening more features.

But, in 2007 Facebook did strike a deal with Microsoft. The software company paid $240 million for a 1.6 per cent stake in Facebook. Digital Sky Technologies purchased 1.96 per cent for $200 million two years later.

Zuckerberg’s net worth was estimated at about $1.5 billion in 2008.

Legal battles with Harvard Connection

Despite his successes with Facebook, Zuckerberg faced legal issues with the creators of Harvard Connection. 

Claiming Zuckerberg stole their idea, the creators of Harvard Connection insisted the software developer paid for their businesses losses.

After incriminating messages revealed Zuckerberg may have stolen the intellectual property of Harvard Connection, Zuckerberg apologised saying: “I think I’ve grown and learned a lot.”

An initial settlement of $65 million was reached. Despite this, the legal dispute over the issue continued into 2011 after claims Narendra and the Winklevosses claimed they were misled in regards to the value of their stock.

Current Influence

With a net worth of $113 billion, Zuckerberg signed the Giving Pledge which means he will donate 50% of his net worth to philanthropic causes before he dies. In 2010, he donated more than $100 million to save the Neward school system in New Jersey.

Following the birth of his daughter, Zuckerberg and his wife, Pricilla Chan, authored an open letter in which they pledge to give away 99% of their net worth during their lifetime

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