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UNRWA concludes the first round of summer camps for refugee children in East Jerusalem
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini joined scores of Palestine refugee children at the conclusion of their summer camp activities at the UNRWA School in Sur Baher in East Jerusalem, which ran between 10 and 15 July.
The Commissioner-General expressed his delight upon seeing the happy children as they engaged in several activities that included handicrafts and preparing Eid al-Adha sweets.
“It is wonderful to see children have fun with their friends after a very difficult year of semi-isolation because of COVID-19,” said Mr. Lazzarini. “UNRWA will continue to do all it can to help contain the spread of the virus and its new variants. It will continue to advocate for equitable access for all to COVID-19 vaccination so that important activities like these will not have to be suspended again.”
This year, UNRWA launched its summer camps in 29 schools in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, with generous funding from the United States Department of State, Bureau of Population Refugee and Migration and UNRWA USA, targeting about 3,000 refugee students from the various refugee camps, including the most vulnerable children who suffer from difficult economic conditions and children with disabilities.
The UNRWA summer camps included various art and cultural activities, such as handicrafts, drawing, music, singing, folk dance (dabkeh), drama and theater, in addition to sports, science and environmental awareness activities. The summer camp activities included a trip that was organized for all the participating refugee children to Jericho, as well as a ceremony that showcased the handicrafts made during the summer camps.
The summer camps resumed this year after being cancelled the last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that encircled the globe. Commenting on the importance of organizing recreational activities for UNRWA students at this particular time, the Chief of UNRWA Education Programme in the West Bank, Mr. Muawiyya Amar, said: “The mental health of refugee children has been impacted during the past months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on the socio-economic situation . These summer camps targeted those who were the most affected and in need of emotional and social development.”
With the exception of last year, UNRWA has organized summer camps for refugee children before their return to school for the past ten years. These camps aim to put a smile on the faces of the children, entertain them and provide them with various skills with the help of trained supervisors.
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.
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