UNRWA LAUNCHES 2016 SUMMER FUN WEEKS IN GAZA
25 July 2016
Providing safe and fun spaces for refugee children and job opportunities for youth
Under the slogan, ‘Let the Fun Begin, a Light of Hope amid Despair’, UNRWA celebrated the opening ceremony of its Summer Fun Weeks (SFWs) for 2016. The ceremony on Saturday, 23 July, at Al-Zaitoun Preparatory Girls’ School (B), was attended by the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Bo Schack; a number of UNRWA senior staff; representatives from local community organizations; UN sister agencies; and non-governmental organizations working in Gaza.
For three weeks, from 23 July to 11 August, more than 165,000 registered refugee children will participate in the SFWs, which will take place over three cycles covering 120 locations across the Gaza Strip. The events cover 108 schools, 9 special needs locations and 3 local staff union locations.
From football to handicrafts to free drawing activities, children will have the chance to play, learn and express themselves in an effort to promote the social values of leadership, respect and cooperation.
The SFWs do not only provide Palestine refugee children with a chance to alleviate life stress and pressures, but they also offer a number of Gaza youth temporary work opportunities. The 2016 SFWs project offers about 2,200 short-term job opportunities with UNRWA to registered refugees through its Job Creation Programme.
The SFWs are one of the Agency’s responses and interventions to help alleviate the psychological effects of frequent conflict and the hard living conditions resulting from the blockade, which is now in its tenth year.
It is also a chance to contribute positively to physical and mental health, supplementing the Agency’s Community Mental Health Programme interventions, allowing for a free and equal playing environment for boys and girls, and helping them develop positive coping mechanisms to stress.
“The effects of the last conflict still affect so many children in Gaza. This means that we have to work even harder to change the lives of these children for the better in Gaza – to change the nightmares many still suffer from into hopes and dreams of a brighter future,” commented the Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, Bo Schack, in his remarks at the event.
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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Najwa Sheikh Ahmad
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