Fourth Agency-wide Student Parliament, Amman, Jordan 2022. © 2022 UNRWA Photo by Majd Qatanani
After two years of uncertainty and travel restrictions caused by COVID-19, the fourth United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Agency-wide Student Parliament workshop was held in Amman between 15 and 18 July.
The workshop brought together 22 elected student parliamentarians representing the voices of over half a million UNRWA students from the Agency’s five fields of operation – Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Former student parliamentarians also joined the meeting to share their experiences with the current workshop attendees and help them develop an action plan.
Supported by UNRWA education staff and Tammey for Human Development, a leading local organization in youth and community development, the young students participated in a series of interactive activities in which they discussed topics such as democratic practices, leadership, participation, decision-making, and communication.
Meeting with the student parliamentarians, Moritz Bilagher, UNRWA Acting Director of Education, said, “Today, not only did twenty-two hearts come together, but also twenty-two minds, who will help UNRWA in its decision-making process.”
A U.S. Embassy representative in Amman joined one of the workshop sessions and was inspired by meeting the young leaders. UNRWA Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, also met with the students on the last day of the workshop. The students presented their action plan and how they intend to support their Palestine refugee peers and the Agency.
“What a vibe and energy. Meeting the #UNRWA Agency-wide parliamentary students: we want to tell the world that #education is our future, our right, we have skills, talents & determination. We do not want to be seen as victims anymore #TeachingExcellence” wrote Lazzarini on his Twitter account.
The Agency-wide Student Parliament was first established in 2017, providing an opportunity for UNRWA students from the five fields to meet and work together to support their communities and advocate for their rights locally, regionally, and globally.
The Agency-wide Student Parliament builds on the school-level student parliaments operational in UNRWA schools since 2001, as part of the Agency’s Human Rights, Conflict Resolution, and Tolerance (HRCRT) Education Programme, supported by the government of the U.S. since 1999.