Searching for a Cure for Pancreatic Cancer between Gaza and Barcelona

20 June 2022

On World Refugee Day, we celebrate Bara’a Abu Asaker (28), a young Palestine refugee woman from Gaza who is making her way – against all odds – and showing the potential of millions of refugees round the world.

When Bara’a left Gaza in 2017 to complete her medical studies at the University of Barcelona in Spain, her baggage already included a life full of adversity and hardship. As a Palestine refugee girl studying at the UNRWA Rimal Elementary Co-Ed School in Gaza and later as a student at the Islamic University of Gaza, Bara’a lived through the devastating deprivations brought on by the 15-year blockade on Gaza and repeated cycles of war, with nowhere to hide from the relentless bombing, destruction and de-development that is prevalent across the Gaza Strip. Today, almost 81 per cent of the total population are Palestine refugees, with 81.5 per cent of all individuals in Gaza living below the poverty line and 1.13 million Palestine refugees reliant on UNRWA food assistance (as compared to fewer than 80,000 in 2000). On average, there are only 11 hours of electricity every day and 98 per cent of the water is not potable. A young person like Bara’a entering the job market faces a 74 per cent youth unemployment rate. And yet, thanks to the education she received at UNRWA schools as a young girl and thanks to the support of her parents, who were both also teachers at UNRWA schools, Bara’a was able to follow her dreams of studying medicine, although this took her on a journey far away from home. Along the way, she discovered a compound that inhibits pancreatic cancer by 80 per cent, making a lasting impression on the betterment of society. Watch her journey here.