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


مؤسسة ريال مدريد تجدد التزامها تجاه أطفال لاجئي فلسطين

15 December 2014

The Real Madrid Foundation and UNRWA have initiated a new course of social and sporting activities for Palestine refugee children attending UNRWA schools in Gaza and the West Bank.

The support offered by the Real Madrid Foundation is more valuable than ever due to the dramatic situation faced by children in the Gaza Strip. The activities promoted by the Foundation and UNRWA will help refugee children overcome the trauma caused by the recent conflict, the third in five years.

The new activities represent the continuation of a 2011 commitment between the Real Madrid Foundation and UNRWA. This commitment was formalised with the signing of an agreement in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium between then UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi and Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.

The project, which is being implemented in seven schools in the Gaza Strip and 18 schools in the West Bank, promotes teamwork and leadership among Palestine refugee children. Children are among the most affected during protection and humanitarian crises, and 80 per cent of participants have experienced some kind of posttraumatic behavior, depression or other disorders caused by the difficult situations they face daily.


Real Madrid Foundation staff previously travelled to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to train UNRWA teachers to become football coaches. The teachers’ new knowledge was put into practice during the the past academic year. Thanks to this initiative, students enjoyed extracurricular sporting activities.

The partnership between Real Madrid Foundation and UNRWA includes the establishment of ‘Social Sport Schools’. In this second phase, the Social Sports Schools will welcome 1,100 students, 600 in the West Bank and 500 in Gaza, expanding the programme’s impact to include additional children with no access to extracurricular activities, giving them an alternative leisure activity and creating a space where they can escape the poverty and violence in which they live.


The programme is committed to gender equality, and, as a result, many refugee girls have fulfilled their dream of playing football like football stars. Although some girls’ parents were initially reluctant for their daughters to participate due to concern that sport is unsuitable for women, the girls finally enjoyed training with the equipment provided by the Real Madrid Foundation. Changing the mindset of society about women and football is not easy, but the programme is taking small steps forward. Coaches put a great deal of enthusiasm into each session, making up for any lack of experience and teaching their students passion for football and the values related to this sport.


Social Sports Schools are a haven where many children living in refugee camps in the occupied Palestinian territory can regain their status as children, far from a routine marked by violence. The schools represent a shelter where the children can dream of becoming great athletes, like their Real Madrid heros. Whether they follow in these footsteps or not, the values learned through football will be an asset for the future.


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:

Cristina Poveda and Irene Martínez
UNRWA España
(+34) 91 702 70 59 / 638 87 95 61

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