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UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


PAL/1878
1 May 2000

FIFTY YEARS OF UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANCE TO PALESTINE REFUGEES

PORTRAYED IN HEADQUARTERS PHOTO EXHIBITION 3-31 MAY


An exhibition of 75 photos vividly portraying the lives of Palestine refugees and the work of the special United Nations agency established 50 years ago to assist them will be on display at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 3 to 31 May 2000.

The exhibition, "UNRWA and Palestine refugees. . . fifty years", documents the history of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which began its humanitarian operations on 1 May 1950. The UNRWA was set up by the General Assembly to assist about three-quarters of a million Palestinians who were displaced from their homes and land during the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948-49.

Today, UNRWA provides basic education, health care, relief and social services for more than 3.7 million registered refugees living in Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In addition to providing schooling for nearly half a million refugee pupils, and receiving 7 million patient visits a year in its health centres, UNRWA also supports community-based poverty alleviation, income generation and microcredit lending programmes to encourage refugee self-reliance.

The Agency also operates eight community-college-level vocational training centres, where nearly 5,000 young refugee women and men study in a variety of trade, technical and semi-professional courses. Since 1954, nearly 57,000 Palestine refugees have graduated from these centres and gone on to make a major contribution to the economic and social development of countries throughout the Middle East and beyond.

The exhibition will be officially opened at a brief formal ceremony on Monday, 8 May, at 5.30 p.m., in which Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Peter Hansen, are scheduled to take part. The exhibition will be on view in the Public Lobby of the General Assembly building daily, during normal visiting hours.



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