UNRWA West Bank director plants olive trees in Burin

15 February 2011

15 February 2011
Burin, West Bank

Barbara Shenstone planting a treeBarbara Shenstone, the director of UNRWA operations in the West Bank, joined workers from UNRWA’s job creation programme (JCP) in planting olive trees on land in the West Bank village of Burin threatened with confiscation.

JCP workers planted 360 olive trees in the presence of the representatives of Palestinian ministries, partners, and ECHO, the European Union’s humanitarian aid department.

Ms Shenstone’s participation reflects UNRWA’s continuous support for Palestinian refugees and farmers to help them protect their lands. She stressed the significance of UNRWA‘s partnership with local community organisations and village councils.

Protecting land

Ms Shenstone said planting olive trees was a way to protect Palestinian lands from confiscation by Israeli settlers. The activity would also attract international attention to the village, she added.

Local people were hired to plant and maintain the trees, bringing employment to the community. Planting olive trees supports the local economy, with trees a lifetime donation. UNRWA’s indicators show that products derived from olive trees provide long-term financial support for many Palestinian families.

Tree donations

Yesterday’s planting was made possible thanks to the generosity of UNRWA’s online donors, hundreds of whom took part in a survey in autumn 2010 to help the Agency find out more about its supporters around the world. In return for their time, everyone who responded to the survey had a tree planted in their name.

Sami Mshasha, UNRWA spokesperson, said: “UNRWA was able to make this lasting difference on the ground in Burin thanks to the generous gift – of time and money – of members of the public from all over the world. We at UNRWA, and the Palestine refugees we serve, thank them.”

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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.

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