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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
26 April 2012



Space, Time, Dignity, Rights: Improving Palestine refugee camps

26 April 2012, Berlin/Jerusalem -- Between international politics and everyday life, transition and continuity, waiting room and home. Against the backdrop of these contradictions, today, roughly one-third of the nearly five million Palestine refugees served by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) live in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

Over a period of more than 60 years, temporary tent cities have developed into complex living environments, some of which rank among the densest urban environments in the world. Congested and poverty-stricken, they reflect the extraordinary resilience and agency of the refugees who inhabit them. The exhibition, which will be shown at Deutsches Architektur Zentrum (DAZ) from 9 May to 3 June 2012, not only displays the projects of the infrastructure and camp improvement programme of UNRWA, but provides insights into a new culture of joint planning with refugees which has emerged and fundamentally influenced all those involved.

Motivated by a sense of urgency with regard to the extreme poverty, congestion, and deteriorating environment embodied by many refugee camps, UNRWA and host governments met with representatives of refugees and the donor community for the 2004 Geneva Conference in order to target worsening living conditions in camps. UNRWA used the new window of opportunity created by the Geneva Conference to set up the infrastructure and camp improvement programme (ICIP) in order to engage with these issues.

Since 2007, BMZ has supported UNRWA with the development of this programme. This involves improving, in a holistic, methodical and comprehensive manner, the refugee camps’ physical and social environment through the introduction of a participatory, community-driven planning approach. The Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is advising UNRWA ICIP with this innovative methodology on behalf of BMZ.

The exhibition “Space, Time, Dignity, Rights” includes four installations that give insight into how participants in camp improvement projects in the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon seek to balance their refugee identity and political rights with their day-to-day needs as residents of congested and impoverished camps. In this process, they deal with questions such as:

The result is a radical reconceptualisation of what constitutes a “refugee camp”. Rather than being a space associated with structural discrimination, it is considered a space where inhabitants can and should live with dignity - which goes hand in hand with the international community's continued support of Palestine refugees until their plight is solved in a just and lasting manner, in accordance with UN resolutions.

The exhibition, which will be shown at Deutsches Architektur Zentrum DAZ from 9 May to 3 June 2012, will be officially opened by Dirk Niebel, Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, and Filippo Grandi, UNRWA Commissioner-General, on 8 May at 7:00 p.m. The event will also include a panel discussion.

On the following day, 9 May 2012, the exhibition’s topic will be further explored during an all-day academic conference, organised in cooperation with the University of Stuttgart, Chair of International Urbanism. Internationally-renowned academics, development experts and representatives of United Nations organisations and the German government have been invited to reflect upon the methodology of the infrastructure and camp improvement programme. Refugee camp urbanisation in an international context as well as participatory planning approaches will be discussed by experts such as Michel Agier (EHESS), Patrick Coulombel (Emergency Architects), Mannoucher Lolachi (UNHCR) and Dania Rifai (UN Habitat).

This exhibition has been made possible by the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) / Regional Social and Cultural Fund for Palestinian Refugees and Gaza Population. Curatorial director of the exhibition is Prof. Philipp Misselwitz, University of Stuttgart, Chair of International Urbanism. Co-operation partner is the Deutsches Architektur Zentrum (DAZ) in Berlin.

For more information about the exhibition in general, the opening event and the academic conference, please visit: www.space-time-dignity-rights.com

Basic information

Opening hours
9 May 2012 – 3 June 2012
Wed – Sun 2:00 – 7:00 pm
Deutsches Architektur Zentrum DAZ, Köpenicker Str. 48/49, 10179 Berlin

Opening Event
8 May 2012, 7:00 p.m.
Deutsches Architektur Zentrum DAZ, Köpenicker Str. 48/49, 10179 Berlin

Conference
9 May 2012, 9:30 a.m.
Deutsches Architektur Zentrum DAZ, Köpenicker Str. 48/49, 10179 Berlin

If you would like to attend the Opening Event or participate in the Conference, please send an email to space-time-dignity-rights@daz.de by 2 May 2012

www.space-time-dignity-rights.com


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