Over 1,000 Gaza school students fly kites in solidarity with Japanese earthquake survivors

13 March 2016
UNRWA Palestine refugee students participating in the kite-flying event in solidarity with the people of Japan remembering the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. © 2016 UNRWA Photo by Tamer Hamam

On the fifth anniversary of the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to hit Japan, messages of continued empathy and solidarity fly in the skies of Gaza. Over 1,000 Palestine refugee students from three UNRWA schools located in the Japanese housing project gathered to fly kites in commemoration of the disaster that killed more than 15,891 people and caused immense damage. 

UNRWA students in Gaza were engaged in flying the kites at the Japanese re-housing project quarter in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, together with the participation of more than 300 other children with special needs from different community-based organizations (CBOs) in Gaza.

“The enthusiasm for the annual kite-flying reminds us of the strong relationship between Gaza and Japan. UNRWA shares the students’ messages of hope and solidarity with the Japanese people,” said Melinda Young, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza (OiC).

To encourage a strong relationship between children from Gaza and Japan, students from both sides exchanged messages about their daily life and experiences through a live online chat session via Skype.

The fifth annual kite-flying event in Khan Younis highlights the strong ties between the Japanese people and Palestine refugees in Gaza. The event is a reminder of both people’s strength and resilience. 

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 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem 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.

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