UNRWA Establishes First-ever Elected Agency-wide Student Parliament

04 December 2017
© 2017 UNRWA Photo

On November 21, the newly elected members of the first-ever UNRWA student parliament, representing all of the Agency’s fields of operation – West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria – came together for a four-day workshop held in Beirut. 

This was an unprecedented encounter and an opportunity to get to know each other, exchange experiences and discuss common initiatives.

Participants explored topics such as human rights, democratic practices, leadership, participation, decision-making, communication and the responsibilities of representing the Agency’s 526,000 students.

As part of the workshop objectives, the students deliberated and agreed on a work plan to guide the activities of the Agency-wide student parliament over the coming year.

They then elected three representatives to assume the leadership of the Agency-wide student parliament. With 16 students putting their name forward as candidates, competition for the three available positions was intense. Each of the candidates delivered a short presentation, highlighting how they would add value and assume the responsibilities of the position.

Thirteen-year-old Karim Abu-Kuwaik, from Gaza, received the most votes and was elected the President of the Agency-wide Parliament. Fifteen-year-old Bayan Kailani, from Jordan, was elected Vice-President. Ahmad Al Jamal, a fourteen-year-old student from Gaza, assumed the position of Parliament Secretary.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl congratulated all members on their election. He spoke of the importance of an inclusive approach to the functioning of the student parliament: “In your roles, the ability to listen and value the ideas of others, whether girl or boy, should be central. Remember that leadership is something that needs to be learned and should serve the interests of the entire student community,” he said.

UNRWA began introducing student parliaments in its schools as part of its human rights education programme in 2001. School parliaments promote a culture of respect and tolerance and play an effective role in schools and in the community.

The elected members of the central UNRWA student parliament are:

  • Abdallah Qasem Mohammed Samari
  • Abdel Rahman Khalid Ibrahim Aiyat
  • Ahmad Ibrahim Mahmoud Baker
  • Ahmad Mahmoud Fawzi Al Jamal
  • Alaa Imad Abbas
  • Aseel Jamal Soboh
  • Bayan Ahmad Mohammed Zeid Kailani
  • Dalaa Loubani
  • Hamza Ahmad Al Haj
  • Hussein Younes
  • Isalam Alaa Elddin Salem Barbakh
  • Jawad Moein Theeb
  • Jenin Ahmad Wesam Hwaihi
  • Karim Abdel Basit Salim AbuKuwaik
  • Mohammad Mabrouki
  • Mohammed Raaft Mohammed Al Shaer
  • Mohammad Yaser Yousef AlQaisi
  • Mahmoud Mohamad Rafe
  • Majd Samir Ahmad Johar
  • Nayef Mohammed Ramadan Burqan
  • Rinas Wisam Hussin
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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