UNRWA & European Union Open First School Garden in Beseiged Gaza

UNRWA & European Union Open First School Garden in Beseiged Gaza

UNRWA students at Beit Hanoun Co-Ed School in Gaza plant the final tree at their new school garden funded by the EU. © 2023 UNRWA Photo by Louise Wateridge

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) opened a European Union (EU)-funded school garden at the UNRWA Beit Hanoun Elementary Co-educational School in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The ceremony brought together Ayman Fteiha, Head of the EU office in Gaza, Fatma Aita, UNRWA Education Area Officer and Palestine Refugee students from the UNRWA Beit Hanoun Elementary School.

UNRWA said that the existence of safe spaces in Gaza is vitally important, particularly during times of conflict.

“Two of my brothers were killed during the last conflict while we were playing near our front door. It was on the last day of Ramadan. My mother was in the market buying us clothes for Eid. Now I don’t have any brothers”, said Fariha, a seven-year-old student at the Beit Hanoun Elementary School who participated in the opening.

Experiences like Fariha’s demonstrate the importance of safe spaces in Gaza and the essential protection they can offer. The Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, Thomas White, thanked the EU for their generous and unceasing aid to UNRWA: "Like all children around the world, these Palestine refugee boys and girls from Beit Hanoun in Gaza can now enjoy carefree play in a happy and safe space, thanks to the EU UNRWA greening initiative.”

“These children and their families have lost siblings and family members in recent conflicts and suffer from long-term psychosocial consequences of the repeated cycles of violence. Safe spaces are vitally important for students to feel secure and engage with their community”, he added.

The garden opening is part of the EU-UNRWA “community greening” initiative, which is designed to foster inclusion and create outdoor spaces in several UNRWA installations for the Palestine Refugee community to gather in. The initiative has produced, restored and preserved green spaces, while simultaneously encouraging environmental awareness and recycling, nutritional education and relaxation. These spaces increase outdoor activity, stimulate social interaction and beautify neighbourhoods.

“This school is located in the northern Gaza Strip in the border zones where many of its students lost their siblings or were injured in the recurrent conflicts. To create a green area where they can play and implement environmental activities and initiatives in a safe place is an invaluable addition to the school. We are so grateful for this initiative; our students are taking responsibility of their garden and are having a lot of fun,” said Zaneen, the Beit Hanoun Elementary School Principal.

Beit Hanoun, in the north-east of the Gaza Strip, has an estimated population of 50,000 people who are mostly Palestine Refugees.

After the conflict in May 2021, there were a total of 75 houses in Beit Hanoun destroyed. So far, UNRWA has rebuilt 62 of these houses and the families have returned to their homes. UNRWA has also repaired 1,642 houses in this village that have been damaged through conflict.

Short Link : https://prc.org.uk/en/news/5622