The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Jalazone Camp Services Committee, and the Jalazone Youth Centre inaugurated a multisport pitch in Jalazone refugee camp, north of Ramallah.

The pitch will not only improve the conditions for children to play and exercise, but will also improve the general living conditions inside the camp by being a safe, public space where families of the camp can meet.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by the Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Scott Anderson the head of Jalazone Camp Services Committee, Mahmoud Mubarak; a number of local community representatives; and UNRWA staff members.

Marking the occasion, Mr. Anderson said: “Jalazone refugee camp is one of the camps most affected by conflict-related violence. This new multisport pitch provides a protected space for the children of Jalazone camp to have fun and, for a moment, forget about the daily challenges they face. I am thankful to the donors, as well as to our Palestinian partners, without whom this project would not have been possible.”

Other speeches highlighting the importance of the partnership with UNRWA were also delivered during the ceremony. The head of the Camp Services Committee expressed his thanks, saying, “We highly appreciate the efforts put by UNRWA into this project. It highlights the role of the Agency as we the refugees regard it and it also strengthens the trust and confidence between the refugees and UNRWA. We have been waiting for long for such a project, which we believe is of utmost importance for the youth and the children in the camp, where places for recreational activities are rarely available.”

The project was made possible with generous contributions from Iceland and implemented through a partnership between UNRWA, the Camp Services Committee and the Youth Centre in Jalazone camp. The actual pitch was constructed by Palestine refugees working under the the UNRWA Emergency Cash-for-Work (CfW) programme.

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. 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.