Palestinian children laughing with "Clowns Without Borders" – Spain

19 March 2009

19 March 2009


Thanks to the support of the Spanish local Council of Burgos, Clowns without Borders" (Spain) has been touring UNRWA schools in Lebanon, since 6 March 2009. On the 19 March they performed in al Yarmouk School, Burj Barajneh, and made around 200 students smile, laugh and clap hands. The Spanish Ambassador in Lebanon, His Excellency, Juan Carlos Gafo and the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Mr Salvatore Lombardo attended the show.

Prior to this, they visited UNRWA health center in Burj Barajneh camp where primary health care is provided to around 16,000 Palestine refugees. They also had the opportunity to meet with Palestinian youth at the Women Programme Centre in the same camp. This was the first visit of the Spanish Ambassador to a Palestinian camp in Lebanon.

"Clowns without borders" is an NGO that endeavours "to make the boys and girls who are victims of wars laugh, especially refugee children. They offer diverse, important and essential values to society to build a world with greater justice." "Clowns Without Borders" (Spain) has previously cooperated with UNRWA in the aftermath of the Nahr el-Bared crisis.

Spain is amongst UNRWA‘s top ten donors and provides generous contributions to the Agency‘s General Fund, and regular and emergency projects. Last year, the Government of Spain contributed to the reconstruction of Nahr el-Bared Camp (NBC) through the Multi-Donor Trust Fund, with EUR 6 million, and donated EUR 0.5 million for rubble removal activities in NBC channeled through UNDP. Previously, in the aftermath of the July 2006 war, Spain contributed to UNRWA‘s Early Recovery Plan with EUR 2 million, followed in 2007 by a donation of EUR 300,000 towards UNRWA‘s 2007 Flash Appeal in response to the humanitarian crisis in North Lebanon. Donations from Spanish regions such as the local Council of Huelva, the Balearic Islands Government, and the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, have also been provided for emergency and recovery activities in NBC and its adjacent areas.

Some 4.6 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. UNRWA’s operations are financed almost entirely by voluntary contributions from donors. The Agency’s regular budget for 2008-2009 is $1.1 billion, which covers the recurrent costs of the Agency’s education, health and relief and social services activities.

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Not an official document

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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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