Press Invitation to 2012 UNRWA Gaza Marathon

24 February 2012

23 February 2012

On 1 March nearly 2,200 children and 500 adults, from professional Gazan athletes to amateur runners from the Middle East and around the world, will take to the streets of Gaza to participate in the second UNRWA Gaza Marathon, organised to raise funds for UNRWA’s 2012 Summer Games.

Two Olympic competitors are registered to participate this year: Nader Al Masri running the full Marathon and Bahaa al-Farra, a 400-metre 2012 London Olympic competitor, running the 10 km race.

The tiny Gaza Strip, surrounded by Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean, is 42 km long, exactly the length of an official marathon. The race will start at 7 a.m. from the northern town of Beit Hanoun, head west to the sea through Beit Lahia, then due south down the coastal road and finish by the sea in the southern town of Rafah.

The 2,000-plus participants will include UNRWA schoolchildren, who will be running 1 km relays along the entire route. The day’s other events will include a half-marathon, a 10 km run, and a 2 km and 500 metre walk, allowing runners of all ages and abilities to participate. Registered participants include 200 Gazan athletes and amateur runners, 80 international runners, 200 women and 180 children with special needs.

Event timeline

Date: Thursday, 1 March 2012
Marathon start: 7:00 a.m. in Beit Hanoun
Half marathon:  9:00 a.m. at kilometre 21, Gaza/Middle Beach Road
10km run:  10:30 a.m. at kilometre 32, Khan Younis Beach Road
2km women’s walk: 10:30 a.m. at kilometre 40, Rafah
500 metre walk for children with special needs: 11:00 a.m. for children in wheelchairs and 11.15 a.m. for other children, Rafah
Finish line awards ceremony: 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Rafah

The events are organised for the children and to raise money for UNRWA’s Summer Games. The Games provide a safe place for 250,000 children in Gaza to play, make friends and express themselves freely; an experience that sadly is unique for children growing up in the blockaded territory.

The UNRWA Gaza Marathon is being sponsored by international donors as well as many local contributors, with generous contributions received from Bank of Palestine, World Vision and Jawwal. Many international runners are using their participation to raise funds for the Summer Games from their friends, family and colleagues. Web sites featuring these international runners include:

To find out more about the Marathon and Summer Games, visit

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Background information

UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for nearly 5 million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a solution to their plight. The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, social safety-net, camp infrastructure and improvement, community support, microfinance and emergency response, including in times of armed conflict.

UNRWA is funded almost entirely by contributions from States. The Agency’s core budget for 2012-2013 stands at USD 1.33 billion. In 2012, emergency appeals for the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon amounted to USD 344.0 million.

For further information about interviews, pre-filming and filming of the event please contact:

Chris Gunness at 0542 402 659
Sami Mshasha at 0542 168 295
Adnan Abu Hasna at 0599 428 061

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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