21 March – 28 March 2017 | issue 187
On 23 March UNRWA facilitated by the office of the Swiss Development Cooperation in Jerusalem organised a cartoon drawing workshop at Al-Khrijat, a community-based organisation in Gaza City, for young and aspiring female artists. The workshop was led by Thierry Barrigue, Nicolas Sjöstedt and Pierre-Olivier Comment, three professional cartoonists from Switzerland.
Young artists in Gaza suffer from the limitations and restrictions imposed by the blockade. They face difficulties exchanging experiences with peers, traveling abroad for training or studies or because of their families’ concern that it is difficult to earn an income through art while the socio-economic situation is already very dire in Gaza. Yet art is an important medium to express feelings, dreams and fears. The workshop provided aspiring Gaza artists with an opportunity to learn from accomplished professionals. In turn learning about the experiences and motivations of their Gaza counterparts was a source of inspiration for the visitors.
“We are used to hearing about Palestine refugees on television, but today we meet them personally, and when we will go back to our country, we will talk to people about how you live, about your suffering, but also about your dreams and hopes,” said Thierry Barrigue, one of the Swiss cartoonists, to the Palestine refugees they met during their visit.
The workshop took place at Al-Khrijat community-based organisation and involved 20 young women from all areas of the Gaza Strip. They had previously participated in a comic drawing training organized by the UNRWA Gaza Communications Department in cooperation with Community-Based Organisations in Gaza city. The one-month training took place in February and focused on topics such as early marriage and gender-based violence. Comic drawing is a form of story-telling, through which UNRWA attempts to empower and provide participants (directly affected or others) with a platform and a voice to advocate for change and support inside their community and beyond.
“The inspiration for my drawing came from my live. I like to draw but my family prevented me from studying art in the university because they think that it is hard to find a job in the field of art in Gaza. So I drew how I felt about this. There are many sensitive topics which we cannot talk about, such as early marriage or gender-based violence. It is therefore easier to draw about it”, said 19-year-old Sarah Al-Ramlawi during the meeting with the Swiss cartoonists.
The lively exchange enabled young female talents in Gaza to discuss the meaning and messages of their art work while exchanging experiences and challenges encountered with experienced cartoonists.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget in 2017. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 257 million has been pledged in support of UNRWA’s emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 463 million. UNRWA urgently appeals to donors to generously contribute to its emergency shelter programme to provide displaced Palestine refugees in Gaza with rental subsidies or cash assistance to undertake repair works and reconstruction of their damaged homes.
As presented in UNRWA’s occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal for 2017, the Agency is seeking US$ 402 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt.
The Gaza portion of the Emergency Appeal amounts to US$ 355 million for 2017, to address protracted, large scale humanitarian needs. More information can be found here.
Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza. Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air. Movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza is restricted to three crossings: Rafah crossing, Erez crossing and Kerem Shalom crossing. Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and technically allows for the movement of a number of authorized travellers, Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases only. Erez crossing is controlled by Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers of authorized travellers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only.