27 May 2010
Five hundred Palestinian refugee school children flooded the streets of Yarmouk Camp in Damascus on the morning of 18 April, running under the ‘VIVICITTA 2010’ banner of solidarity, integration, human rights, and environmental protection.
The run was held simultaneously in camps throughout Lebanon and East Jerusalem, in addition to 53 countries around the world.
“UISP Italy sponsored this sporting event in order to spread the message of peace, dialogue, and cultural diversity. We are not looking for Olympic champions, but rather champions of friendship,” declared Achille Amerio, the Italian Ambassador to Syria.
After crossing the finishing line, students entertained the crowd with a drumming performance and certificates were distributed to marathon winners and to all participants.
“We participate in this event on the same day that we celebrate our independence. Students ran today in support of their right of return. They are our future, they are our hope,” said Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees.
“Thank you to all who made this event possible today. Sports education is vital in helping to prepare the next generation of Palestinians for success. We thank the Syrian government for supporting these important initiatives,” declared Mohammed Ammouri, head of UNRWA’s education programme in Syria.
VIVICITTA 2010 was organised by UISP, Italian Union Sport for All, in association with the Italian Cooperation and UNRWA, and is dedicated to all Palestinian refugees living in the Levant region.
This year’s initiative aims to collect funds for the construction of a playground for disadvantaged Palestinian children from the Beddawi Camp in northern Lebanon. VIVICITTA is an annual event that has been organized by UISP since its inception in 1984.
Text and photo by Haley Bobseine