OPT: UNRWA news release to mark international refugee day

Damascus, 20th June 2007: The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Karen AbuZayd, today paid tribute to the support of the Government of Syria for Palestine refugees and to UNRWA. She was speaking at a special cultural event to mark World Refugee Day, under the patronage of the First Lady of the Syrian Republic, Mrs. Asma al-Assad. "It was important to recognize the debt of gratitude that we owe to the Government of Syria, for its hospitality, generosity and continuing support to the well-being of refugees", AbuZayd said.

To mark World Refugee Day, UNRWA hosted a "Celebration of Palestinian Culture" at the Opera House in Damascus. Mrs. Asma al-Assad, who attended the event, said: "Seldom do we see the role of art in any society as we have seen it today. Today's event provides us with the opportunity to become acquainted with the role of art in preserving and unifying identity: a reason for hope and optimism.

These specific characteristics of art are of great importance for refugees. It is like an anchor which links them to their identity, despite the uncertainty surrounding their future".

In addition to welcoming Palestine refugees, Syria has provided refuge for the refugees from Lebanon last summer. Currently Syria hosts more than one million Iraqi refugee guests. Commenting on the "Celebration of Palestinian Culture", Commissioner-General AbuZayd said, "We chose our theme because of the richness and diversity of the culture" that "is one of the defining features of Palestinian identity. On this World Refugee Day, we showcase this distinctive heritage through paintings, sculptures, national documents, embroidery exhibitions, folklore dances and a fashion show."

For more information call Hala Mukhles + 963 -11- 6133035 or + 963 - 933 - 416591

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