H.E. Ms. Aileen Carroll, Canadian Minister of Cooperation visits children’s projects in Nablus and Habla
2 August 2005- Nablus and Habla – North of West Bank. H.E. Ms. Aileen Carroll, Canadian Minister of Cooperation, H.E. Mr. Ghassan Al Khatib, Palestinian Authority Minister of Planning, accompanied by a delegation of high officials from the Canadian Government, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and UNICEF, carried out a field visit to Nablus and Habla today. The field visit aims at witnessing projects in support of Palestinian children and adolescents, as a result of the joint cooperation between the Canadian Government and UNICEF.
In her opening remarks during the Children Municipal Council’s (CMC) networking meeting, H.E. Ms. Carroll empathized with the adolescents and the daily challenges they faced in the midst of the current conflict. She also commended the adolescents on their achievements in the CMCs: ‘CMCs provided opportunities for thousands of Palestinian adolescents to participate democratically in elections’ She added: ‘You are the leaders of tomorrow, through CMCs, you can participate positively in nation building’.
In his speech, Bara’ Abu Eisheh, the child Mayor of Nablus Children Municipal Council, and on behalf of all CMCs, thanked the Government of Canada, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and UNICEF for their continued support to Palestinian children. ‘Through CMCs, we are able to secure our rights that were otherwise denied due to on-going conflict’ said Bara’. ‘ CMCs helped us in developing needed life skills, provided us the opportunity to influence decision makers in our society and helped us in confidence building. ‘ It also provided us with opportunities to plan and implement projects for children and adolescents’ added Bara’.
Following various official speeches, H.E. participated in a discussion with the adolescents representing the four CMCs from Jenin, Toubas, Jericho and Nablus present in the networking meeting. However, due to limited access, the remaining four CMCs could not participate in the networking meeting.
In Habla, H.E. inaugurated a safe play area for Palestinian children. ‘Safe play areas provide opportunities for children to play safely and enhances positive team spirit’ said Ms. Carroll.
Ourwa Shahwan, a 12 year old child from Habla thanked the Government of Canada for their continued support to Palestinian children. ‘Given the on-going conflict, Palestinian children have limited opportunities for safe play areas’ said Ourwa. ‘You give us hope. Through safe play areas, we are able to play with our friends and enjoy our childhood’ added Ourwa.
Songs, folkloric dances by children were some of the many activities that took place during the inauguration of the safe play areas.
UNICEF with funds from CIDA, supports 8 CMCs and 14 safe play areas as part of the Child Friendly Cities Initiative. Through democratic elections, adolescents in CMCs are able to practice their rights to participation and freedom of expression thus influencing decisions that affect their lives. Safe play areas provide opportunities for children to practice their rights for safe play in the midst of the current conflict. More than 600,000 adolescents and more than 140,000 children benefit from CMCs and safe play areas in the occupied Palestinian territory.