ERW AWARENESS IN UNRWA SCHOOLS: SAVING CHILDREN’S LIVES
05 June 2016
The ERW risk education project is one of UNRWA outreach activities on safety and risk education. It is implemented by the UNRWA Safety and Security Division (SSD) with technical support from UNMAS. All 257 UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip participated in the project, with every school nominating at least three teachers for the Training of Trainers (ToT). Each teacher passes the experience and skills from the training on to the other teachers in the school who conduct awareness sessions with the students.
Ten-year old Sali Hwihi a student in the UNRWA Beit Hanoun Elementary Co-ed A School is one of the children who participated in these awareness sessions. Sali said: “In the session I learned many good things I had never heard about before. For example I learned what ERW is, what the different types of ERW are, and who to contact when I see ERW. During the conflict, many places were attacked and Beit Hanoun is one of these, so all children here face the risks of ERW.”
Sali lives in Beit Hanoun, one of the most affected areas in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 conflict. After the 2014 summer hostilities more than 7,000 ERW were estimated to remain in the Gaza Strip. Although over 40 per cent of ERW had been identified and destroyed by January 2016, the remaining ERW continue to pose a threat to the population living in Gaza, particularly to children who play in conflict-affected areas and adults who work on agricultural land.
“I got the information from my teacher and then I went and taught my brothers, sisters and my parents. I want to ensure all people around me know about the risk of ERW, because people can die, get injured or get a disability because of them,” Sali recalled.
The ERW risk education sessions started on 7 March and are still ongoing. As of now 32 sessions have been conducted and 726 teachers (313 males and 413 females) were trained on different topics such as the definition of ERW, their shapes, sizes, types, dangerous places and signs of ERW presence, hazards and effects of ERW and safety and security procedures around ERW.
Sali also said: “After I participated in the session, I wanted to know more so I went and looked for more information on the internet. When children play, they go everywhere so it’s important to know about ERW.”
UNRWA also provides this training opportunity to its other staff, especially those working on the ground, including social workers and engineers. In addition, the UNRWA satellite channel (UNRWA TV) produced short films to raise awareness on the correct procedures for identifying and safely responding to ERW contaminations. The educational films are broadcasted on UNRWA TV and posted on YouTube, benefiting millions of people outside of the Gaza Strip.
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$ 81 million. 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 .
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