Italians inaugurate new sports facility in Beddawi and El-Buss camps

09 November 2010

8 November 2010
Beirut

Italians inaugurate new sports facility in Beddawi and El-Buss campsUISP Sport per Tutti and UNRWA in Lebanon inaugurated a new sports playground in an UNRWA school in Beddawi Camp today. The Italian Sport Association UISP (Unione Italiana Sport per Tutti) funded the EUR 16,500 project. The ceremony took place in the new playground of Kawkab/Battouf school in Beddawi camp, north Lebanon, in the presence of the Director of the Development Cooperation Office/Embassy of Italy in Beirut, Mr Fabio Melloni, UNRWA representatives, UNRWA students and local community representatives.

The ceremony was followed by sports games attended by the Italian Pentathlon Champion Daniele Masala. He addressed the participants with a quote from Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee. “Sport is part of every man and woman‘s heritage and its absence can never be compensated for. We base our culture of sport on this sentence, without frontiers or barriers,” said Masala.

The Italian Region of Puglia funded the second playground for a total amount of EUR 20.000. The inauguration ceremony was held on 3 November 2010 in UNRWA’s Al Shajara school in El-Buss camp in Tyre in the presence of the two representatives of Puglia Region, Flavia Chirianni and Pina Marella, the Director of the Italian Cooperation Office/Embassy of Italy in Beirut, Mr Fabio Melloni, UNRWA Lebanon Deputy-Director, Mr Roger Davies, UNRWA students and local community.

During her intervention, Ms Flavia Chirianni said that Puglia region is “honoured to help Palestinian kids in building places where sport can promote peace and dialogue.” She also affirmed that “Puglia is confident that this new playground can be the field for new Palestinian sport champions.” The ceremony was followed by a small handball match played by the Palestinian school students and opened by Ms Flavia Chirianni.

Italians inaugurate new sports facility in Beddawi and El-Buss campsTwo more playgrounds - in UNRWA’s Bissan School in Ein El Hillweh camp – were rehabilitated thanks to a EUR 30,000 contribution from the Italian Municipality of Rome. A delegation from Rome visited the school playground in September 2009.

These new playgrounds represent a key component of UNRWA’s expanded recreation programme, which began in the summer of 2010 with a pilot version of Learn and Play. This multi-activity programme provided 6,000 children with a series of arts and crafts, sports and teambuilding activities over the course of eight weeks.

Director of UNRWA Affairs Lebanon, Salvatore Lombardo, stated: “Play and enjoyment are often taken for granted by children elsewhere in the world. The sad reality for Palestinian children here in Lebanon - given the desperate socio-economic circumstances - is that the UN has to build the playground and provide the recreational activities for them. Through the funding so generously provided by the Italian Cooperation we are not only providing children with a bit of fun - but we are also equipping them with the concrete skills and room for self-expression on which a more positive future depends.”

Some 4.7 million Palestine refugees in UNRWA’s five fields of operations – Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – are eligible for Agency services, including education, healthcare, social services, shelter, micro-credit loans and emergency aid. UNRWA employs nearly 30,000 staff, the vast majority of whom are Palestine refugees.

Italy is an important funding partner for UNRWA Lebanon. They funded several playgrounds in partnership with several Italian regions and supported the Palestiniadi sport initiative. The government of Italy also donated around US$2 million to support health reform in Lebanon, US$2.6 million for the camp improvement initiative, US$3.5 million to Nahr el-Bared emergency assistance since the onset of the crisis and US$1.3 million to the reconstruction of the camp.

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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$ 68 million.

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