UNRWA West Bank director plants olive trees in Burin
15 February 2011
Burin, West Bank
Barbara Shenstone, the director of UNRWA operations in the West Bank, joined workers from UNRWA’s job creation programme (JCP) in planting olive trees on land in the West Bank village of Burin threatened with confiscation.
JCP workers planted 360 olive trees in the presence of the representatives of Palestinian ministries, partners, and ECHO, the European Union’s humanitarian aid department.
Ms Shenstone’s participation reflects UNRWA’s continuous support for Palestinian refugees and farmers to help them protect their lands. She stressed the significance of UNRWA's partnership with local community organisations and village councils.
Ms Shenstone said planting olive trees was a way to protect Palestinian lands from confiscation by Israeli settlers. The activity would also attract international attention to the village, she added.
Local people were hired to plant and maintain the trees, bringing employment to the community. Planting olive trees supports the local economy, with trees a lifetime donation. UNRWA’s indicators show that products derived from olive trees provide long-term financial support for many Palestinian families.
Yesterday’s planting was made possible thanks to the generosity of UNRWA’s online donors, hundreds of whom took part in a survey in autumn 2010 to help the Agency find out more about its supporters around the world. In return for their time, everyone who responded to the survey had a tree planted in their name.
Sami Mshasha, UNRWA spokesperson, said: “UNRWA was able to make this lasting difference on the ground in Burin thanks to the generous gift – of time and money – of members of the public from all over the world. We at UNRWA, and the Palestine refugees we serve, thank them.”
|EUjob creationprotectionWest Bank|
Festival highlights human side of life in Gaza
Over the past month, the Festival of Alternative Arts has hosted a series of cultural and artistic events that have shed new light on life in Gaza.
The panel engaged in a variety of topics, touching on issues that were both expected and surprising.
On 25 January, UNRWA’s deputy director in Gaza, Christer Nordahl took part in a media seminar with Gazan journalist Sami Abu Salem and journalist photographer Mia Gröndahl at Al Balad Theatre in Amman.
The occupation. The frequent blackouts. The constant fear. The underlying flicker of hope.
Refuge and respite
Christer Nordahl, who has worked with UNRWA in Gaza for the past decade, singled out the importance of women's centres in providing much-needed refuge and respite. He also highlighted the value of UNRWA's Summer Games in allowing children to take part in recreational activities, offering them some semblance of normality amid the inhumane conditions which occupy every aspect of their lives.
Mia Gröndahl, the author of Gaza Graffiti: Message of Love and Politics, said: "These are children like any other children in any part of the world and they have the right to depend on us, on humanity, to ensure that they enjoy their childhood."
As an internationally renowned freelance journalist, Sami Abu Salem is able to travel the world outside of Gaza, but lamented the frustrating inability to cook falafel in his home due to the import restrictions placed on key ingredients.
Limits to everyday life
Under the shadow of occupation, Gazans face limitations in all aspects of everyday life, with Mia Gröndahl suggesting that many young people use graffiti to channel and express their feelings and frustrations.
The debate was one of many events under the Festival's programme, which also included photographic exhibitions, film screenings, theatre, and musical performances. The Festival was initiated by the Embassy of Sweden in Jordan, with a range of partners including UNRWA.
UNRWA also co-organised a "Street Labs" evening in partnership with Philadelphia Skateboards and 962Street, focusing on young people and street culture. The evening incorporated live music production, hip hop poetry, skateboarding and a debate on the significance of street culture. Participants from UNRWA's community development centre in Zarka attended, actively engaging in the topics discussed and emphasising the impact that participation in the centre has had on their lives.
UNRWA works with 104 refugee-run community-based organisations throughout all five fields of operation. Operated by members of the refugee community, the organisations provide a wide variety of activities, ranging from skills training and community-based rehabilitation to awareness-raising workshops for women, children and young people, and people with disabilities.
14 February 2011
Leading Middle East telecom operator Zain’s UNRWA TV commercial has won three prizes – best production, best director and best soundtrack – at the annual MENA Cristal Awards, held recently in Lebanon.
The prizes were for UNRWA 60 Years - It's a Wonderful Life, a 60-second film about Palestinian refugees, sponsored by Zain and produced by Lebanon-based City Films Production House.
The film was the centerpiece of a six-week regional marketing campaign across all media in the summer of 2010 to promote fundraising in support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
The campaign, sponsored by Zain Group, created awareness for the Agency’s humanitarian work in the region, on the occasion of its 60th anniversary, in an effort to enlist financial support for the Agency’s work in the areas of health and education for the benefit of Palestinian refugees.
“This is yet another example of our diversity outside the boundaries of our core business,” said Zain Group chief commercial officer Bashar Al Arafeh.
Chris Gunness, head of communications at UNRWA, added: "With creative partnerships such as ours with Zain, we can put the Palestine refugee issue on the map as well as make the case for proper funding for UNRWA. This ad is just one example of what can be done in terms of advocacy and awareness-raising when UNRWA's creative team partners with the private sector."
A version of this article originally appeared on the news site Trade Arabia.refugeesZain
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