15 May 2009
On Friday 15th May UNRWA marked its 60th anniversary with a launch event for "UNRWA at 60", a series of worldwide events planned to commemorate UNRWA’s 60 years of service to Palestine refugees.
The launch event was hosted by Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd at the Ramallah Women’s Training Centre and attended by senior Palestinian government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, senior representatives of the Palestine refugee community, and members of local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Amongst the distinguished guests were Dr Rafiq Husseini, who gave an address on behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Peter Hansen, UNRWA’s former Commissioner-General.
The evening included speeches, musical and dance performances and film screenings that reflected on six decades of exile for Palestine refugees, during which UNRWA has worked alongside the refugees in times of relative calm in the Middle East, as well as strife.
The evening culminated with the release of 60 helium-filled blue balloons. The symbolic release of the balloons was made as a gesture of hope for the future. The balloon is a symbol of hope rising over obstacles and uniting those who have been separated and scattered. The balloon is a childhood object, representing the innocence of children who are the chief recipients of UNRWA services.
Each balloon that was released had a tag with a wish written by a Palestine refugee child attached to it. Each tag had a unique tracking number and an invitation for anyone who finds it to email UNRWA and report where the tag was found. The balloons were released in the hope that the children’s wishes will reach far and wide, that they will be heard, amplified and ultimately realised.
UNRWA at 60