By UNRWA – Gaza
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has opened the registration for the 2013 Gaza Marathon: a 42-kilometre run along the coastline of the Gaza Strip in April next year.
Organized to fund UNRWA’s program of fun summer activities for Gazan children, the marathon will host runners from the US, Europe and elsewhere, as well as local stars such as recent Olympic contender Nader al Masri, and the young people of Gaza.
One of the most-densely populated places in the world and characterized by extreme poverty and ongoing conflict, Gaza is a difficult place for children to grow up. The recent eight-day conflict in Gaza and southern Israel weighed particularly heavily on children, with hundreds of homes destroyed and evidence of psychological trauma in many of the 225,000 children attending UNRWA schools in the Strip.
In recent years, each summer UNRWA has organized a program of fun activities for children in Gaza aimed at soothing the trauma of conflict and blockade. Through expressive activities like theatre, sport and art, children are encouraged to have fun as well as given the personal tools to cope with the difficult events they have witnessed.
“I’m happy to declare this marathon open to all entrants”, said director of UNRWA operations in Gaza Robert Turner.
“We have already been inundated with requests to take part from keen runners all over the world”, he added.
“We hope that from today, people will sign up to join us, raising funds and awareness to bring fun and hope to the children of Gaza”.
Learn more about the Gaza marathon, including how to sign up.
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, microfinance and emergency assistance.
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, supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit.
This holiday season, UNRWA is making an urgent appeal for donations to help Palestine refugees affected by conflict in Gaza and Syria. Find out more.