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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
29 November 2008

29 November 2008

Italy funds promotion of peace and dialogue through sports in Palestine refugee camps

Beirut – 29 November 2008:

On 29 November 2008, the Italian Embassy’s Development Cooperation Office and UNRWA organized a day of sports events for young Palestine Refugees in Lebanon. The event was held in UNRWA’s Siblin Training Centre in the presence of the ambassador of Italy in Lebanon Mr. Gabriele Cecchia, and the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon Mr. Salvatore Lombardo. The event included sports activities and competitions in the fields of racing, football, table tennis, volleyball and basketball. At the end of the day, medals and cups were awarded to winners.

Participants came from all Palestinian camps in Lebanon, and were accompanied by their families and 40 athletic trainers. All participants were provided with uniforms, shoes and bags with the logo of "Palestiniadi" and other sponsors.

To make the beneficial effect of sports last longer than "Palestiniadi" event, the project has also included the rehabilitation of two sports spaces situated in UNRWA schools in the camps of Shatila (Beirut) and Rashidiye (Tyre). It aims at promoting peace and dialogue through sports. The idea was born from a need expressed in the camps by the young Palestinians and their families to have more recreational spaces that help them get away from their very difficult living conditions. This is a pilot experience that may be replicated in other camps and disciplines. During 2009, rehabilitation of sporting facilities will expand to all UNRWA schools and closed spaces inside the Palestine refugee Camps in Lebanon.

In his address to the participants, his Excellency Mr. Gabriele Cecchia, Ambassador of Italy to Lebanon announced a new contribution of 400,000 Euros by the Italian Government to the UNRWA Relief and Early Recovery Appeal. In addition to this, the University of Perugia will award two scholarships for Sports and Motor Sciences studies in Italy.

Some 4.6 million Palestine refugees in UNRWA’s five fields of operations – Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem – are eligible for Agency services, including education, healthcare, social services, shelter, micro-credit loans and emergency aid. UNRWA employs nearly 30,000 staff, the vast majority of whom are Palestine refugees. UNRWA’s operations are financed almost entirely by voluntary contributions from donors. The Agency’s regular budget for 2008-2009 is $1.1 billion, which covers the recurrent costs of the Agency’s education, health and relief and social services activities.

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