Sports for Dignity
UNRWA and UNICEF Lebanon Launch Palestiniadi Sports Programme for Children
Palestiniadi, a sports programme for children and youth in Palestine refugee camps and gatherings in Lebanon, was launched today by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in partnership with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Responding to the needs of the growing population of refugees from Syria, the programme aims to bring together Palestine refugee children from Lebanon and Palestine refugees from Syria, as well as Lebanese boys and girls and children with disabilities through sports activities and healthy competition.
The opening ceremony of the three-day sports event, on 25 April, took place in Saida, southern Lebanon, and was attended by the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Ann Dismorr; the Deputy Representative of UNICEF Lebanon, Luciano Calestini; Cultural Advisor of the Embassy of Palestine, Maher Moshail; and the Representative of the Lebanese Palestine Dialogue Committee, Lina Hamdan.
“Children are children everywhere, regardless of their nationality or whether they have a disability; all children have the right to play and to enjoy recreational activities”, said Mr. Calestini during the ceremony. “Sports provide this vehicle, which is vital for the physical development and psychological well-being of children and adolescents, especially those affected by the Syria crisis.”
Thanking UNICEF for its continuous support to UNRWA and to Palestine refugees, Ms. Dismorr said: “UNICEF continues to be an invaluable partner to UNRWA in supporting, through various projects and activities, vulnerable Palestine refugee children and youth, in particular Palestine refugee children and youth from Syria.”
The games will take place from 25 to 27 April, during which period over 300 students from all the Palestine refugee camps across Lebanon, as well as Lebanese students, will benefit. They will compete at the UNRWA Siblin Training Centre in six categories: football, table tennis, running, volleyball, basketball and chess. On 27 April, medals will be distributed to the winners and participants of the various events. This is the sixth edition of the successful Palestiniadi programme, which was formerly supported by Italy’s Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI).
As in the past two years, Palestiniadi encourages children with disabilities to attend and to be integrated. In 2014, the aim is to increase the number of children with disabilities to 10 per cent of the overall participants.
UNICEF and UNRWA have a long-standing partnership in Lebanon. UNICEF remains one of the largest UNRWA partners in education and health for Palestine refugee children. Since 2012, UNICEF has provided US$ 4.4 million to assist Palestine refugee children from Syria in the fields of education, child protection, health and sanitation. In addition, UNICEF has contributed to regular UNRWA programmes with a total of US$ 1.2 million since 2011 towards learning support activities and back-to-school kits.
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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