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Volunteers cater to refugee children on IVD in the occupied Palestinian territories
08 December 2002

West Bank/Gaza: The United Nations Volunteer (UNV) programme in the occupied Palestinian territories this week celebrated International Volunteer Day (IVD) by holding series of art workshops for children living in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza.

Under the theme of "UNV working for a brighter future: We care", and with support from the United Nations Development Programme/Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP/PAPP), the week-long IVD celebration included workshops for children in facial paintings, drama, percussion, drawing, distribution of humanitarian aid, beautification of Al-Quds University campus, sponsoring of the "Remembering the Innocent Children’s Festival" in Bethlehem, as well as visiting and distributing gifts to hospitals, elderly homes and orphanages during the Eid Al-Fitr.

"It was so enlightening and moving to learn the realities faced by the Palestinian people. UNV’s commitment to the cause of peace, justice and human rights serves as a catalyst to help the people face this challenge," said Sharon Capeling-Alakija UNV Executive Coordinator in recognition of UNV efforts. "The UN Volunteers have shown a rare determination to carry on despite the dangers, difficulties and sadness emerging from the daily tragedies of the conflict. This is what makes volunteerism so powerful."

Paying a tribute to Palestinian-based UN Volunteers, Timothy Rothermel, Special Representative of the UNDP’s Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People, said "volunteerism will always be one of the most central pillars of Palestinian development...in light of the tremendous human resources that national UN Volunteers and Palestinians in the Diaspora have, and the capable staff we have managing the programme here, it is little wonder that we enjoy one of the most successful and recognized UNV programmes in the world".

The event was implemented with the help of organizations such as SHAREK, Palestinian Counseling Center, Palestinian Red Crescent Society, Near East Foundation (NEF), Middle East Non-violence and Democracy (MEND), Al-Quds University, Sabreen Association for Artistic Development, Heart to Heart, and Nakhleh Eshiber institute.

SHAREK, meaning to participate, is a community-based participation programme implemented by UNDP/PAPP which gives opportunities to young people between the ages 14 to 20 to identify, plan, evaluate and sustain their own development initiatives.

UNV has been active in the occupied Palestinian territories since 1994. More than 260 UN Volunteers have been directly working in sectors ranging from health care, information technology, medical services, human rights and promotion of democracy, education, humanitarian relief and post crisis management, to art and music. Today, over 40 UN Volunteers are currently serving working in the occupied Palestinian territories.