13th November 2015
Karl der Grosse, Kirchgasse 14 Zurich
The National Committee of UNRWA in Switzerland is a nonprofit organization that supports the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Our mission is to promote a life of dignity and human development for Palestine refugees by informing the Swiss public about UNRWA’s work and generating support for its programs through fundraising, education, and advocacy.
UNRWA is one of the largest and oldest UN programmes – operating now for over 65 years. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight.
Working in 5 fields – the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan – UNRWA provides essential services including education, health, relief and social services, protection and emergency response programming to some 5 million refugees.
Among UN agencies, UNRWA is unique in delivering services directly to beneficiaries. Employing nearly 30,000 staff, the vast majority of whom are refugees themselves, these services have continually been provided despite extremely challenging operating conditions, including armed conflict.
UNRWA has four human development goals to which it is committed: 1) acquired knowledge and skills; 2) a long and healthy life; 3) a decent standard of living; and 4) human rights enjoyed to the fullest.
Investment in one programming field leads to benefits in all the others. Educated students make wiser decisions about their health; healthier people are more employable; employed parents are able to provide for their children. That is the cycle of life we all hope to contribute to collectively.
Palestine refugees have been on an epic journey since their catastrophic displacement in 1948 and remain, today, a scattered people, further displaced by conflict, blockaded and living under occupation, marginalized by national legislations, deprived of rights and fervently longing for a resolution of their exile and dispossession.
UNRWA, the UN Agency created to bring human development and emergency assistance to Palestine refugees, has been with these Palestinians every step of the way. UNRWA photographers have chronicled the Palestine refugee experience since it started operations in 1950. This photo essay is a snapshot of the extensive UNRWA exhibition of archival photographs inaugurated in November 2013 in Jerusalem entitled, ‘The Long Journey of Palestine Refugees’. The images are drawn from the magnificent and extensive UNRWA archive which was inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2009, recognizing its historical value.
The photo essay tells the visual story of a protracted refugee crisis – one of the longest lasting cases of forced migration in modern history. In the words of UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, Palestine refugees need more than just aid; they need a just solution.
Introductory remarks by
Ms Uta Boelhoff, Director External Relations UNRWA in Jerusalem
Mr Thomas Oertle, head of the Middle East and North Africa Division of the Swiss Development Cooperation in Bern
Ms Carolina de Borbon Parma, Representative for Partnerships UNRWA Switzerland
In addition to the generous donations of many individuals, we would also like to thank the following people and
companies for their support for this exhibition:
FabraDavies Special Branding Agency
Aufziehservice Müller, Zürich