15 February 2011
Burin, West Bank
Barbara Shenstone, the director of UNRWA operations in the West Bank, joined workers from UNRWA’s job creation programme (JCP) in planting olive trees on land in the West Bank village of Burin threatened with confiscation.
JCP workers planted 360 olive trees in the presence of the representatives of Palestinian ministries, partners, and ECHO, the European Union’s humanitarian aid department.
Ms Shenstone’s participation reflects UNRWA’s continuous support for Palestinian refugees and farmers to help them protect their lands. She stressed the significance of UNRWA's partnership with local community organisations and village councils.
Ms Shenstone said planting olive trees was a way to protect Palestinian lands from confiscation by Israeli settlers. The activity would also attract international attention to the village, she added.
Local people were hired to plant and maintain the trees, bringing employment to the community. Planting olive trees supports the local economy, with trees a lifetime donation. UNRWA’s indicators show that products derived from olive trees provide long-term financial support for many Palestinian families.
Yesterday’s planting was made possible thanks to the generosity of UNRWA’s online donors, hundreds of whom took part in a survey in autumn 2010 to help the Agency find out more about its supporters around the world. In return for their time, everyone who responded to the survey had a tree planted in their name.
Sami Mshasha, UNRWA spokesperson, said: “UNRWA was able to make this lasting difference on the ground in Burin thanks to the generous gift – of time and money – of members of the public from all over the world. We at UNRWA, and the Palestine refugees we serve, thank them.”