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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
22 January 2015


22 January 2015

"الرحلة الطويلة": حياة وتاريخ لاجئي فلسطين من خلال أرشيف الأونروا للصور والأفلام

UNRWA has brought the Long Journey photography exhibition to the Al-Bireh Cultural Center in the city of Al-Bireh. The exhibition showcases iconic photos and films depicting the life of Palestine refugees since 1948, selected from the digitized UNRWA Archive.

The UNRWA Archive contains more than 430,000 negatives, 10,000 prints, 85,000 slides, 75 films and 730 video cassettes. In 2009, it was inscribed by UNESCO in the Memory of the World Register, in recognition of its historical value.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl inaugurated the exhibition in Al-Bireh. “This important photographic and audio-visual archive helps people engage with the history of Palestine refugees and learn about their lives,” Mr. Krähenbühl said. “We are committed to preserving the archive for future generations to ensure this essential part of Palestine heritage will not be lost.”

Digitizing the archive not only rescues and safeguards the material, but also makes it easier to categorize and disseminate, giving new life to this historical resource.

The archive consists of images and films taken by UNRWA photographers throughout the tumultuous second half of the twentieth century and start of the twenty-first century. It includes iconic images of Palestinians fleeing their homes in 1948; the establishment of refugee camps in the 1950s; the second flight, in 1967; hostilities in Lebanon; and unrest from the second half of the 1980s to the early twenty-first century. The lives of Palestine refugees are central to the archive, often in the context of UNRWA’s work, and portraits of important public figures and scenes of turbulent political events serve as a reminder of the troubled context that has become part of the community's collective memory over the past six decades.

The exhibition will be open daily until 17 February 2015.

For broadcast-quality versions of the following films: The Long Journey (about the former UNRWA photographer George Nehmeh re-visiting persons in Jordan and in Gaza that he photographed during his 40-year long career with the Agency) and Sands of Sorrow (the first known documentary film showing the Palestine refugees in the first tent camps immediately after the 1948 Naqba) please contact Johan Eriksson @ sends e-mail).


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$ 81 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267 sends e-mail)

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

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