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UN Special Adviser attends sport complex inauguration in Bethlehem

8 May 2014
Mr Lemke Palestine 020514.jpg
UN Special Adviser at the Burj Al Luqlqu Youth and Community Center.

UNOSDP (Geneva) – On 2 May, UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Mr Wilfried Lemke attended the Inauguration Ceremony of the Cultural Heritage and Community Development building in Bethlehem. Partially supported through funds facilitated by the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace, these premises will play a crucial role in the education of youth in the area.

On his mission in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the UN Special Adviser focused on the role that sport could play in promoting development and peace in this politically unstable area. After numerous visits to this region, Mr. Lemke was impressed with the development of sport facilities, the focus on empowerment and the effort that is being applied to abolish barriers to sport.

The construction of the Cultural Heritage and Community Development building will address current prevalent social issues, and will look to focus on achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). At the Inauguration Ceremony, the Special Adviser was confident about the work that will be completed by the instituition.

“I believe this new complex will play a significant role in the advancement of gender equality and the development of human resources in Palestine, where people suffer from unstable economic and political conditions, as well as health issues both physical and mental.”

Other appointments during this mission included a meeting with Mr. Lionello Boscardi, Chief of the Partnership Division, at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). After receiving funds distributed by UNOSDP, Mr Boscardi reported on the projects that benefited and provided an outlook to the future for similar initiatives.

As a region that has benefited greatly from the impact of sport projects, Mr Lemke made time to visit some of the initiatives that have helped develop the community. The Diyar Women Sports Centre is a facility that provides women in Palestine with the necessary skills and education required for them to enter the employment market. Shortages of qualified female professionals such as trainers, team coaches, referees and dieticians make these participants valuable to their societies. During this visit, Mr Lemke observed a training session in the newly erected facilities.

PeacePlayers International, a sports organization that uses basketball to bring together conflicting communities, is based in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, South Africa and the Middle East. This NGO offers participants the chance to play together on a field free from politics and violence. Mr Lemke took this opportunity to meet with a previous participant of the Youth Leadership Programme (a coach for PeacePlayers International) and engage in discussions with female players from Israel and the Palestinian Territories as part of their Leadership Development Workshop. It is their goal to promote peace by bringing communities together through the power of sport and more specifically through basketball.

To round off his mission, Mr Lemke made his way to the Burj Al Luqluq Youth and Community Centre in East Jerusalem. Supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the facility and its sport programmes are used to promote positive social values within the local community.

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