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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
6 September 2016


06 September 2016

This year’s International Youth Day, celebrated on 12 August, had been about achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, focusing on the leading role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable consumption and production. This year’s annual theme was “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption.”

Youth are strong and effective advocates of recycling, reusing and limiting waste, and they are leading technological innovations to foster a resource-efficient economy,” stated the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon on his statement marking the International Youth Day.

In alignment with this approach, the UNRWA Gender Initiative, in cooperation with Future Home Association organized an advocacy campaign in cooperation with 20 partnering Community-Based Organizations (CBOs). The campaign that continued from 7 to 14 August targeted male and female youths across the Gaza Strip to raise awareness on recycling and increase resource efficiency with focus on solid waste, grey water, and urban agriculture.

The campaign started with a two-day training for 12 male and female youth with an educational background in environmental and agricultural engineering; the training focused on recycling processes and means of advocacy for better, more sustainable resource management to ensure a healthy living environment. Afterwards, the trained youth organized 20 awareness raising sessions for a total of 400 young persons (200 women and 200 men) across the Gaza Strip. The sessions held at the 20 CBOs not only served to raise awareness, but also to listen to the experiences and ideas of participants on innovative recycling approaches. Given the strangled economy and high levels of youth unemployment in the Gaza Strip the sessions aimed to engage discussion on community participation and possible advocacy efforts to increase knowledge and awareness on how recycling can be used for income-generation.

In a closing event on 14 August, approximately 100 youth from across the Gaza Strip came together to share their thoughts, ideas and applied recycling work for solid waste.

Horiya Mahmoud Hejela, a 29-year old refugee and mother of five children, is making a flower pot from
paper and plastic. Photo credit: © UNRWA Gaza 2016. Photo by: Heba Kureizem.

For the past eight years, 29-year old Horiya Mahmoud Hejela has been working as a recycling artist, using waste material such as cartoon, plastic bottles and yoghurt cans to create practical and low-cost products.

“I can make tissue boxes, litter bins, artificial trees and bridal baskets from the materials people usually throw away. More efforts should be put in raising awareness among youth on how to minimize waste and how waste can be reused,” she said. “My recycling skills enabled me to provide for my family, especially since my husband is unemployed and I have five children. I’m happy to be part of such event and hope that more campaigns and initiatives are organized to pave the way to a sustainable future,” she added.

27-year-old Samaher Mohammed Abu Aqlein, a holder of bachelor degree in
accounting from Al-Quds Open University,standing next to her recycling
products at the closing ceremony of the awareness campaign.
Photo credit: © UNRWA Gaza 2016. Photo by: Heba Kureizem.

27-year old Samaher Mohammed Abu Aqlein is the sole breadwinner of her five-member family. She has been working in recycling projects for more than four years.

“I have always been keen on preserving environmental resources. Through recycling I try to achieve this goal and to provide a source of income for my family. My products are environmentally friendly, long lasting and affordable; they vary from school bags and children’s toys to pen cases and table covers,” she commented.

“I always try to teach my children the culture of recycling. It is critical to focus on young generations and empower them to make green consumption choices. They are the leaders of tomorrow and play an integral role in achieving sustainable development,” she added.

Esmat Mousa, a 25-year-old environmental engineer, works for Islamic Relief as a facilitator
for environmental activities targeting elementary school children in Gaza.
Photo credit: © UNRWA Gaza 2016. Photo by: Heba Kureizem.

“I train kids on how to recycle plastic bottles and keep the environment clean by reusing plastic waste for useful purposes. There should be a mechanism in place to make Gaza clean from waste produced by schools, hospitals and factories,” explained 25-year old Esmat Mousa who works for the Islamic Relief organization as a facilitator for environmental activities.

“During this UNRWA campaign, I learned about new concepts, including urban agriculture and how to recycle solid waste and grey water. Recycling can contribute significantly to fulfilling the basic needs of all people, including youth, by making food, water and energy more accessible and affordable to those living in poverty,” he added.


UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 96.5 million. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724

Najwa Sheikh Ahmad
Acting Public Information Officer - Gaza Field Office
+972 597 920 542
+972 8 2887 488

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