COMMUNITY EVENT CELEBRATES SPORT AS A TOOL FOR DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
A community sports event held at Siblin Training Centre (South Campus) under the patronage of the Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Affairs in Lebanon, Mr. Matthias Schmale, marked the United Nations International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP). This year’s celebration focused on the theme of “United Action towards Sustainable Development for All Through Sport.”
In honour of the day, Lebanese students from several public schools and Palestinian youth from the various camps and gatherings in Lebanon played a friendly football match. The event focused on realising the potential of sport as a tool for development and peace and was organised in the framework of two EU-funded projects entitled "Improving living conditions in Palestinian Camps" and "Education, training and employment for Palestine refugees in Lebanon."
Representatives from the European Union Delegation in Lebanon, the Palestinian Embassy, UNRWA, the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, the Mayor of Siblin, Popular Committees, and the Lebanese Palestinian Business Forum were in attendance. A delegation of teachers and students with disabilities from Ghassan Kanafani Cultural Foundation joined students from UNRWA schools and sport-related development NGOs, along with STC teachers, students and parents, in supporting players from the side-lines.
In his opening remarks, the Head of the Cooperation Section in the delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, Dr. Alexis Loeber said: "About a year ago we celebrated the completion of this football field and we believed that this place will become a playing field where positive values are shared and spread. We believed that it will testify to the ability of sports to reinforce development and encourage peace-building through its unique capacity to inspire and mobilise. We believed that it is a great investment in the power of sports to enhance physical and mental well-being and promote social interaction, inclusion and citizenship. Today we see that our beliefs have turned into reality. Let us celebrate this achievement. Let us celebrate the results of this investment."
Acting Deputy Director of UNRWA Affairs Lebanon, Mr. Ziyad Qamar, emphasized the unique capacity of sports to bring communities together: “This facility is a wonderful representation of the power of sport to uplift and inspire young people and foster engagement between Palestinian and Lebanese youth. A palpable sense of enthusiasm has grown here amongst our students over the past year and we will continue to harness this spirit to promote inclusion and peace.”
The representative of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC), Ms. Lina Hamdan, stressed that “LPDC is committed to support this initiative, and any other initiative, falling under theses labels in order to secure a bright and prosperous future for the youth and fend off any bid to enroll them in vicious and dishonest activities.”
The EU and UNRWA Partnership
The European Union is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees, providing crucial and reliable support to UNRWA since 1971. Between 2007 and 2014, the European Union contributed over EUR 1 billion (US$ 1.44) in support of UNRWA, including US$ 906 million to the General Fund. In addition, the EU has generously contributed to UNRWA humanitarian emergency appeals and projects in response to various crises and specific needs across the region. EU Member States provide additional crucial support to the Agency. The partnership between the EU and UNRWA has allowed millions of Palestine refugees to be better educated, live healthier lives, access employment opportunities and improve their living conditions, thus contributing to the development of the entire region.
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$ 100 million.
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