5 May 2011
UNRWA today announced the results of its 2011 photo competition for young Palestinian refugees. In a ceremony in Ramallah to launch an exhibit that will travel to Lebanon, Gaza and Jordan, EU representative Christian Berger and UNRWA officials paid tribute to the photographic talent of the winners.
Organised by UNRWA and the European Union along the theme “What you don’t know about my life”, the competition was open to Palestinian refugees aged between 18 and 26 in all of the UN agency’s fields of operation: Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan. Young Palestinian refugees were invited to create a series of five photos that would give the viewer an insight into their life, such as the corners of their house, the alleys of their refugee camp, or the bustle of the town where they live.
Speaking at tonight’s ceremony, UNRWA Director of External Relations and Communications Magnus Lindell explained that the aim of the competition was to give a voice to the refugees served by UNRWA; to enable them to speak to the world about their lives, their dreams and aspirations, and to remind the world that they are still here.
All photo essays were judged by a panel compiled of professional photographers, UNRWA staff, and head of the photography department at Bir Zeit University, Rula Halawani. Having deliberated over nearly 100 entries from throughout the region, the panel awarded the first prize to 23-year-old Hadeel Al Ramli, for her portrayal of life in Gaza Womens’ Prison. Unable to travel to the West Bank to pick up their prizes in person, Al Ramli and third-prize winner Abdel Rahim Abu Laban, from Yarmouk camp, Syria, sent video messages of thanks.
In a video watched by the crowd in Ramallah, Al Ramli explained the idea behind her photo story. “I focused on my life and the life of women in my society. All of us are living in a prison in Gaza, where the borders are closed on both sides … and the prison of social traditions, which limit the freedom of women in Gaza,” she said.
“I want to thank UNRWA for organising this – it’s such a great opportunity,” added Rahim Abu Laban, 23. “I’d like to see more of these kinds of opportunities for young people.”
Second-prize winner, 24–year-old Kholoud Al Ajarma from Aida camp near Bethlehem, was presented with her prize and a bouquet of flowers by UNRWA officials.
The Ramallah exhibit, at Al Halaj gallery, is open to the public and will run until 19 May. The exhibit will travel to Gaza City, Amman and Beirut throughout the summer.
1st place: Hadeel Al Ramli,Gaza
2nd place: Khouloud al Ajarma, Aida camp, Bethlehem
3rd place: Abdel Rahim Abu Laban, Yarmouk camp, Syria
Wisam Salameh, Gaza
Rushdi Al Sarraj, Tel Al Hawwa, Gaza
Bilal al Talawi, Khan Younis, Gaza
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