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UNRWA Student Parliament Ahmad Abu Daqqa Intervention at the UNRWA Pledging Conference
The United Nations, New York
2 June 2023
Ladies and Gentlemen,
“We have, on this earth, what makes life worth living,” said the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
My name is Ahmad. I am a Palestine refugee from Gaza. I am very happy to be here today at the United Nations General Assembly, the House of all countries and peoples, including Palestinians.
I am a student at the Khuza Preparatory Boys School in Khan Younis. It is one of 700 schools that UNRWA runs and I am one of 500,000 girls and boys who study in UNRWA schools.
I am an elected representative in my school’s parliament. I am a parliamentarian and speaking today in the name of my peers. They want me to speak on their behalf about their dreams, their problems and, most importantly, their education.
Some of you may have visited the Gaza Strip before. You may have seen our gorgeous sunrise and our beautiful seafront. You will have probably also seen how congested the Strip is and how young its population is.
I am one of the younger generation of Palestine refugees. Like 300,000 other children in Gaza, we are very proud students in UNRWA schools. We study hard and we sometimes go far. As far as Europe, the United States or even the outer space!
We learn about human rights, tolerance and values that are common to mankind. Values that make us better human beings and that make us universal citizens, even if we live under a blockade that prevents most of our movement.
The blockade does not prevent our dreams though, and this is what my peers want me to convey: We, the students of the Gaza Strip, seek hope amidst despair. We only find it in education and learning, despite the numerous difficulties and obstacles we face, like living in a conflict and war zone.
We do not ask for much. We only ask for our rights – the rights that are enshrined in international law. We want to wake up one day with optimism, not fear.
We are children who find the true meaning of childhood within the pages of our books and notebooks. We go to UNRWA schools - our only refuge in times of crisis - where we find hope.
We are the ones who have dreams that reach the stars, despite the painful reality of our lives.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
You have always supported us through your support to UNRWA. Please ask your governments to continue doing this. It is your funds that can keep our schools, our education and our hope.
My peers and I want to continue learning. We want to continue challenging the conditions around us through education, and we want to reach for our dreams. Because there is, on this earth, what makes life worth living.
Ahmad Marwan Abu Daqqa
The Gaza Strip
UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.
UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.
UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.
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