Did you know that...
• In 1949, there were 750,000 Palestinian refugees. There are now more than 3 million.
• A million of these refugees live in 59 camps located in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
My father smiled sadly
Layth Abu Hantash is Palestinian. He is studying electrical engineering at the Jordan University in Amman.
"I am from a family of 10 in Irbid, Jordan. My grades in the "Tawjiji" final examinations were so good that my teachers came to see my parents to ask them to send me onto University. My father smiled sadly and told them that we were much too poor to even dream that I could ever study at University. But...here I am!"
Layth is one of 243 refugee students in Jordan who are receiving support through the UNRWA scholarship programme.
Three quarters of the children had roundworms
Abdel Hamid lives in Beach camp in the Gaza Strip.
"In winter, the situation was really appalling. Rains used to cause severe flooding, and we often found ourselves knee-deep in slime inside our shelters. Open sewers ran through the camp, where all kinds of parasites bred. At one point, more than three quarters of children were infected with round worms by the age of four."
UNRWA has helped lay thousands of metres of sewerage pipes which should lead to a dramatic improvement in the health situation in the camps.
I learned how to open a small business
Um Issa is 60 years old. She lives in Deir el-Balah camp in the Gaza Strip.
"Before 1994, I didn't have anything. Then, I received a loan and was able to set up this grocery stall at the front of my shelter. I sell lots of different things, and can now support my entire family. I have learnt how to open a bank account and keep simple records, how to buy goods and price them."
Four thousand women have received small loans from UNRWA to set up small businesses. They have formed a social network which allows them a measure of independence in addition to their extra income.
UNRWA in brief
UNRWA, established in 1949:
• Provides essential health, education, relief and social services to Palestinian refugees.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees
in the Near East (UNRWA)
P.O. Box 371
Tel.: (972-7) 677 7700