United as One: Palestine Refugee Youth Release a Song of Hope and Determination

23 December 2020
On 31 December, 23 Palestine refugee students and six musicians will release a message of hope and unity for the world. (c) 2020 UNRWA Photo.

A group of young and talented Palestine refugee women and men are sending a message of hope and unity to the world through a song they have just released. United as One is an upbeat song that resulted from long hours of composing, jamming and experimenting that the young people spent with a group of international songwriters and musicians: a song that embodies the resilience and hope of refugee youth.

The 23 young Palestine refugees are all members of the 2018/2019 Agency-wide Student Parliament representing the voices of over half a million Palestine refugee girls and boys studying in more than 700 schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Through this first initiative of its kind, the students hoped to send the world a message of determination, unity, and peace – even in the face of conflict, joblessness and now, a devastating global pandemic. It is their end-of-year wishes to the world, hoping that 2021 will be a better year for everyone.

The music-making initiative was born when the Agency-wide Student Parliament members, frustrated at their limited opportunities for self-expression, articulated an interest in using music to make their voices heard around the world.

Under the artistic leadership of Italian cultural manager Paolo Petrocelli (Founder and President of EMMA for Peace, an international NGO for the promotion of music diplomacy, the project brought together music professionals: Davide Dileo, composer and music producer from Italy; Jordan De Maio, singer-songwriter from the USA-Italy; Lydia Lyon, singer-songwriter from the USA; Zeina Barhoum singer from Jordan; and Amir Issaa, a rap artist from Italy.  The artists helped bring the student parliamentarians’ dream to life through coaching and mentoring the students over two years to produce a beautiful piece of music that expresses the creativity and determination of the young Palestine refugee population.

The lyrics highlight the beauty of the music and passion of the students: “Despite the challenges, despite the worries, our hope lasts. We want to write with the ink of freedom and love, new unforgotten pages and color them with you for a new future and a new day.” For the young Palestine refugees, music has provided a much-needed escape from an often difficult reality.

Due to the Agency’s unprecedented financial crisis, critical services like those extended to these children are now in jeopardy, putting #PalestineRefugeesAtRisk.

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 5.7 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.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140