24 August 2010
A group of UNRWA’s top human rights students met the Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Stoere in Gaza on their return earlier this month from a ten-day trip to Norway.
The girls made a huge impression on the minister as they explained what they had learned on their trip to Norway, where they met other Norwegian officials and visited human rights institutions.
Student Majd Dahlan, from Khan Younis, said: “We have proved to everyone we met that we love peace and condemn violence, and are looking for freedom. Many of our rights are violated and we're looking for the world to support us to enjoy our rights."
She added: "We have been briefed on the human rights in Norway and found plenty of people sympathetic to us. We've seen another world and a different life."
“We want to live in dignity”
Rawan Sehwail, an eighth-grader from Rafah, said: “The trip was very useful as we informed all the officials we met about our right to life, our suffering and that we deserve a life similar to the children of the world.”
She said: “We emphasised to everyone we met that we, people and children, love peace and want to live in dignity like other people in the world.”
Sana’ Qurmush, the trip supervisor, said: “Ten girls who excelled at the UNRWA human rights course took an important visit to Norway. They met many Norwegian officials and explained the situation that the Palestinian people in Gaza experience.”
Meetings with ministers
She added: “The delegation met the deputy foreign minister and the former Norwegian prime minister, Gro Brundtland, who supervised the Oslo Agreement, chaired the World Health Organization for four years and is considered one of the world’s most important human rights activists.”
The students also visited the National Human Rights Centre in Oslo and NORAD, the Norwegian Agency for Development and Co-operation.
Welcoming his daughter back, Shaima Abu Daia’s father spoke of his pride at his daughter’s membership of the delegation: “These trips are of great benefit to the Palestinian people because they are an opportunity to convey a message to the world about what is going on here and about how our children think.”
UNRWA’s education chief in Gaza, Dr Mahmoud Al-Hemdiat, said: “These trips are very important because it is important that the world hears a message from the children of Gaza.”
He added that these children are real ambassadors for Gaza, as they are able to speak eloquently about the real conditions of their lives.