The Blue Balloon Takes A Final Flight

26 November 2009

26 November 2009

Jerusalem

Yesterday saw the Blue Balloon take its final flight after a two month-campaign throughout the West Bank to share the commemoration of UNRWA’s 60th anniversary with young camp residents. For two months, the Blue Balloon Mobile vehicle has wound its way around the West Bank, packed with music, a slide show, games, posters, drinks, volunteers, scores of good will and, of course, hundreds of blue balloons. Despite rain, the specially decorated vehicle was greeted enthusiastically on its farewell jaunt by the young residents of Ar Ramadin.

The show began with a rousing performance by Palestinian children’s performer Omar Jalal, whose songs about the freedom of birds to fly over all obstacles soon have had his young audiences rapt throughout the campaign period. After this, volunteers from Sharek, the Palestinian Youth Forum, engaged the kids with fun activities and distributed a range of interactive materials, including sticker posters of the continent of Europe donated by the EU, and a cartoon poster depicting the number sixty with images of refugee camp life to be coloured in. Nobody left empty-handed.

As the evening drew in, kids and adults alike were entertained by a slide show and an animated clip depicting UNRWA’s presence in the lives of Palestine refugees over six decades through the motif of the Blue Balloon. The event culminated in the symbolic release of 60 helium-filled balloons into the night-sky, to raucous applause and cheers from the young crowd.

The ‘Blue Balloon Mobile’ has been organised with the generous funding of the European Union, which contributed significantly toward the implementation of the activities. Other donors include the Hoping Foundation, the National Beverage Company, Bailasan Design and Zoom advertising. The implementing partner was Sharek Youth Forum.

Since September, the Blue Balloon Mobile has made its way across the West Bank, bringing fun and games to approximately 4,000 boys and girls in 18 refugee camps and Ar Ramadin. The campaign was carried out in conjunction with UNRWA’s Educational Recovery Plan (ERP), which aims to improve education in all of UNRWA’s schools in the West Bank under the motto ‘towards a brighter future’.

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Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 70.5 million.

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