A goal for peace

23 April 2009

23 April 2009

Friendly football match between the FC Molenbeek Brussels – Palestinian National Football Team, on 6 May, Edmond Machtens Stadium of Molenbeek-Brussels-Belgium
UNRWA sees its 60-year anniversary in 2009-2010 as a unique chance to further strengthen relations with its beneficiaries while maintaining, building and extending its partnership with the European Union and its institutions.

The "UNRWA at 60" commemoration will stage a series of events, putting refugees themselves, and the people who worked with- and alongside the agency as the focal point.

In Brussels, this translated into the "EU–UNRWA Partnership for Peace & Humanity" initiative covering two events funded by the European Commission:
1. An academic conference on the "Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Palestine Refugees" at the end of June;
2. "A Goal for Peace" – a friendly football match on 6 May 2009 between the Palestinian National Team and the FC Molenbeek-Brussels.

"A Goal for Peace "will also be a fundraising event for the benefit of Palestine refugees. It will be hosted at the Edmond Machtens Stadium of the Molenbeek region and will be preceded by a musical performance by the famous Palestinian musical group "SABREEN". This event is bringing together 7,000 participants who wish to promote understanding and support for sport as a tool for development and peace. All the proceeds of the ticket sales will benefit the UNRWA Scholarship Endowment Fund which will support young Palestine refugees in achieving their university education.

On 20 April, the public information campaign for "A Goal for Peace" was "kicked off" in Brussels at a press conference hosted by the UN Regional Information Office in the presence of Mr. Philippe Moureaux, Mayor of the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean region, Ms. Christiane Hohmann, spokesperson of the European Commissioner for External Relations, Ambassador Leila Chahid, General Delegate of Palestine to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg, Mr. Johann Vermeersch, President of the FC Molenbeek-Brussels and Mr. Matthias Burchard, Head of the UNRWA Liaison Office Brussels & Representative Office Geneva. The conference was moderated by Mr. Rik Lamoral, Secretary General of the European Union of Sports Press.

As stated by Philippe Moureaux, Mayor of the Commune of Molenbeek, "Molenbeek has always been a multicultural community where everybody can live in peace and solidarity. We are very proud to host the Palestinian National Football Team and the entire civil society of Molenbeek is mobilised to make a success of this event."

Christiane Hohmann, Spokesperson for the European Commission External Relations added, "The European Commission is proud to sponsor "A Goal for Peace" - a unique football match which is one of the highlights of the events marking the 60th anniversary of UNRWA. European Commission has been providing financial support for the crucial work of UNRWA for Palestine refugees since 1971, becoming the second largest single donor to UNRWA‘s budget today."

Leila Chahid, General Delegation of Palestine in Brussels, said, "I am very proud of the assistance provided by UNRWA to Palestine refugees over the last 60 years. However, instead of looking back, let’s look forward, hoping that UNRWA will no longer be needed in the coming years"
Johan Vermeersch, President of the FC Molenbeek Brussels commented that, "A Goal for Peace" is a perfect example that sports are based on tolerance and openness. I am sure that our players and those of the Palestinian National Football Team will do their best to make turn this match into an entertaining and interesting sports event."

Matthias Burchard, Head of UNRWA’s Liaison Office Brussels and Representative Office Geneva, said that "UNRWA has thought hard if it this was an anniversary to celebrate, but was encouraged by our beneficiaries, the Palestine refugees, donor and host countries to go ahead, not by looking back, but looking to the future. In 60 years UNRWA’s work has contributed to the prosperity and stability of the Middle East by serving humanity and providing a space where peace can take hold. UNRWA is humbled by the generosity of all partners that make this event possible."

The campaign foresees the distribution of 10,000 posters, and 25,000 leaflets across the Capital Region of Brussels, as well as placing posters on 100 trams and busses for two weeks, in addition to emailing and website information.

The "A Goal for Peace" initiative is grateful and proud to have found partners in the Capital Region of Brussels, the Belgian Ministry of Social Integration, the UN Office for Sport Development and Peace, the UN Regional Information Office Brussels, and the General Delegation of Palestine in Brussels, and is assisted by various NGOs, among them the Belgo-Palestinian Association, and individuals such as Simone Susskind.
Tickets for the match on 6 May are only available in at the ticketing office of the FCM Brussels at the Machtens stadium (www.fc-brussels.be) in an advance sale.

For further questions, please contact:
FCM Brussels: Mr. Jo de Rop, 0032.2.412 71 75
Municipality of Molenbeek: Mr. Jamal Ikazban, 0032.2.412 37 81
European Commission: Christiane Hohmann, 0032.2.299 11 96
General Delegation of Palestine: Mrs. Leila Chahid, 0032.2.735 16 39
UNRWA Brussels: Matthias Burchard, 0032.2.256 75 85

Background Information

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. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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