UNRWA Gaza documentary wins film festival award

08 December 2010

8 December 2010
East Jerusalem

No Sharp Objects, an UNRWA documentary that follows a group of Gazan teenagers as they take a remarkable journey to the United States, won the award for Best Film (Human Rights) at the We the Peoples Film Festival in London last month.

Director Johan Eriksson received the award at the National Film Theatre in London on 27 November. He said: "These 15 boys offered the most bountiful filmmaking opportunity anyone can wish for. The way they interacted with everyone they met on the trip was truly heartwarming."

The film, produced by UNRWA’s Gaza field office, features 15 boys – all aged 15 – who were among the top students on the human rights, conflict resolution and tolerance programme that is taught in all UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip.

Most had never been outside Gaza before. They had lived through the war and felt the consequences of isolation all their lives, seeing homes destroyed, and living with death and deprivation. One of the boys‘ fathers was dying of cancer because of lack of access to adequate treatment.

The boys can’t believe their eyes at the hotels, aeroplanes and highways they encounter during their road trip.

In Washington they confronted congressmen and homeless people in the same unassuming way. Seeing snow for the first time was as exciting as meeting the dignitaries and seeing the Washington monuments. They left members of the Security Council at a loss as to how to react to their bear hugs.

Then, two days after seeing the lights of Times Square, they heard the iron gate at the border between Israel and Gaza close behind them. The next morning they woke up in the devastation of Gaza thinking they had been in a dream.

To mark International Human Rights Day, the film will be premiered on 9 December at the French Cultural Centre in East Jerusalem. For more details, please contact the UNRWA Public Information Office at hq-pio@unrwa.org

For more information about the We the Peoples Film Festival, visit www.wethepeoples.org.uk

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For more information please contact:

Chris Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0) 54 240 2659

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0) 54 216 8295

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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