A goal for Palestine: Jenin refugee kids play football

14 December 2011

14 December 2011

Girls enjoy the football“I often felt that football was limited to boys,” said Ayda Nidal. “But UNRWA has given us the opportunity to practise football.”

The 14-year-old girl and other children living in the Jenin refugee camp are now able to play in a football field restored by UNRWA through a project funded by the German government.

“Kick the Ball”

Project “Kick the Ball” is a collaboration between the Free University of Berlin and the Palestinian Counselling Centre (PCC), using sports to help Palestine refugee children overcome the trauma of war and occupation.

Pupils waiting to play footballWith training from the German university, eight coaches from UNRWA schools are teaching Jenin refugee students football skills that can be applied off the field – such as fair play, tolerance, and respect. 400 young people have already taken part in the after-school and weekend trainings.

“I am delighted that the children of Palestine have the opportunity to be coached by professionals, and we can witness their skills first-hand,” said UNRWA’s Dr. Muhannad Beidas. “This kind of human development work with refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is especially critical during these times of unrest.”

Dr. Beidas attended the launch of the rehabilitated field along with other partners in the project, including the German representative office in the oPt, the governor of Jenin, the Popular Camp Committee, and children from the refugee camp.

Addressing the needs of traumatised children

Also assisting in the project are staff from the PCC, who will provide one-on-one support to both the children who have survived conflict and the coaches who are training them.

Counsellors will help children learn how to deal with their emotions in the context of war and occupation, and will ensure that coaches can provide assistance to traumatised children.

For more information, please call:
Public Information Office – West Bank
054 216 8717

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 more than US$ 106  million.

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