“A LIGHT OF HOPE AMID DESPAIR”: UNRWA SUMMER FUN WEEKS PROVIDE MUCH NEEDED EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN A STRUGGLING ECONOMY
03 August 2016
UNRWA Summer Fun Weeks provide much needed employment opportunities within a struggling economy
More than 2,200 short-term job opportunities for registered refugees have been created by UNRWA as part of its 2016 Summer Fun Weeks programme, which runs from 23 July through to 11 August in 120 locations across Gaza. As part of the Agency’s ongoing commitment to serve Palestinian refugees, UNRWA continues to serve as a primary job provider in the poverty-scarred enclave. Through its Job Creation Programme (JCP) and with a particular focus on youth, the SFW positions vary from animators and clerks, to technicians, cleaners and administrative staff in Area Operations Rooms.
In light of the unprecedented high unemployment rates standing at 41 per cent with 60 per cent unemployment among youth due to the tightened blockade, which is entering its tenth year, the SFWs programme offers a number of Gaza youth a much needed and deserved opportunity to work temporarily and help restore their self-respect and feeling of value in society.
The blockade continues to have a devastating impact on the private sector in Gaza, decimating livelihoods and causing poverty in the once dynamic Strip. As one of the UNRWA’s interventions, the SFWs Programme supports the local economy through purchase of food and drinks from local suppliers. The need for high quantities of juice and biscuits – for example 850,000 bottles of juice – also creates a need among the manufacturers/suppliers to recruit more employees to manage the assignments. Additionally, some of the equipment for SFWs has been maintained using services in Gaza – for example repairing 250 inflatable toys and another local company that installed sunshades in SFW locations.
Dr. Yousef Mousa, Manager of the 2016 UNRWA Summer Fun Weeks Programme, notes the importance of it to all people and life in Gaza: “Summer Fun Weeks is not only fun for children but also an important tool to help revive the local economy, support our local businesses and build the self-esteem and skills of our young people.”
165,000 registered children across the Gaza Strip continue to participate in the three-week UNRWA SFWs, which aim at building up resilience and providing a safe place for play in a protective environment for conflict-affected children in Gaza.
The Summer Programme, under the theme of “a light of hope amid despair”, consists of three cycles and features a wide variety of activities ranging from handicrafts to sports, free drawing corners and mental-health driven activities.
26-year old Zainab Mohammed Shurreim graduated from UNRWA Gaza Training Centre, and now works as a clerk at the SFWs location of the Beach elementary Co-ed School. “Though it is short, it is a great opportunity for me. I have enjoyed working with the children and practiced the administrative skills I have learned at GTC. This experience improved my self-esteem,” Zainab commented.
“My family has no source of income. With this job opportunity, I managed to provide for my six-member family and afford the cost of my brother’s surgery. Life in Gaza has become harder and harder. I hope I can find another job to support my family and continue to contribute to my society,” she added.28-year-old refugee Mohammed Samoor, holder of a Masters Degree in Mathematics from the Islamic University, Gaza, is the sole breadwinner of his large family. He commented on his work experience as an animator at one of the SFWs locations at Al-Bahrain Kingdom Preparatory school for boys: “This is the first time I have worked at the Summer Fun Weeks. I’m very happy that I had the chance to work here; it boosted my self-confidence and enabled me to support my family financially.”
Mohammed added: “I also learned how to work with a high team spirit and smooth communication among the team members. I hope more graduates can have this chance next year.”
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 74 million. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance .
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