Palestine refugees in Syria support peace through football

07 May 2009

7 May 2009


Thousands of Palestine refugee football fans gathered across the region last night to witness a moment of historic proportions as the Palestine National Team competed valiantly against Belgium team FC Molenbeek Brussels in a friendly match dubbed "Goal for Peace."

Closer to home, the live broadcast was shown in the outdoor yard of Jarmak School in Yarmouk, Mr. Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestine Refugees, Lisa Gilliam, Acting Director of UNRWA in Syria, dozens of Palestine refugee youth and UNRWA staff cheered on the Palestine National Team. This event was one of many planned for 2009-2010 to pay tribute to six decades of UNRWA achievement.

The event saw emotions running high amongst spectators, most of whom were relishing in their first opportunity to see their national team play live. Although the Palestine National Team fought determinedly, victory narrowly eluded them in the second half of the match, scoring only three goals to the Belgians’ four.

Supported by member states of the European community, the event was incorporated into the broader ‘EU–UNRWA Partnership for Peace and Humanity’ initiative.

In addition to the excitement generated by this match in Yarmouk, 7,000 people gathered in Brussels to promote sport as a tool for development and peace. Proceeds generated from a performance by Sabreen, a popular Palestinian musical group, will go directly to support the UNRWA Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Watching the match in Yarmouk Camp

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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 more than US$ 106  million.

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