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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
3 December 2014


03 December 2014
New York

To mark the climax of the UN’s International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an iconic image from UNRWA’s newly digitized archive has been displayed on buildings in eight cities across the world: Bangkok, Beirut, Dubai, Jakarta, Seville, New York, Tokyo and Vienna. As part of this campaign, a huge image of an UNRWA student dating from 1983 was emblazoned for six hours on the UNHQ building that is part of the Manhattan skyline.

Speaking in front of the UN Headquarters building in New York on which the image was projected, UNRWA’s Deputy Commissioner-General, Margot Ellis said “now more than ever before, it is important to show solidarity with the Palestinians. UNRWA has been doing this for 65 years through the delivery of basic services such as education and health, which have successfully led to the human development of the Palestine refugee community. With the recent conflict in Gaza and the war in Syria moving into its fourth year, we also have extensive emergency programmes in all five areas of our operations, which include Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank. All these programmes need sustained support from the international community ”. Ms. Ellis was in New York for the annual UNRWA donor pledging conference on the UN General Assembly.

UNRWA has digitized over 300,000 images (67%) from its archive of nearly half a million images, some of which date back to 1948 and the Nakba or catastrophe as the Palestinians called their original displacement. The Agency is making these images available on line to journalists, writers, scholars and members of the public, anyone interested in the long and still unresolved question of the Palestine refugees and the development of UNRWA’s services over six decades.

“The very fact that after all these years, over five million refugees, many of them very poor, are still waiting for a resolution of their plight underlines once again that there must be renewed political action in the peace process,” said Ellis. “Humanitarian action by UNRWA is vital though it is certainly not a substitute for full rights, employment and dignity without which refugees will remain in a state of extreme vulnerability. UNRWA remains committed to its human development mandate, offering hope and the prospects of a dignified future to the next generation."

Also in support of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, on Monday of last week, the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, opened UNRWA’s exhibition, “The Long Journey” which is now on display in the lobby of the UN HQ building in New York.

Click here to see displays of the iconic UNRWA image across the world.


UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267 sends e-mail)

Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications & Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724

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