"We Are Tired; It’s Enough" On World Refugee Day, UNRWA Shares the Voices of Palestine Refugees in Gaza

On 20 June, under the slogan Will You Stand #WithRefugees, the world marked World Refugee Day, commemorating the strength, courage and resilience of millions of refugees around the world.

UNRWA shares the voices of Palestine refugees in Gaza, reminding the world of their plight and long journey through the tumultuous second half of the twentieth century and start of the twenty-first century.

Seventy-five-year-old Jamila Hashisho is originally from Jaffa city, south of today’s Tel Aviv in Israel. When she was only 6 years old, she was forced to flee her home with the rest of her family, trying to seek safety and protection. She ended up in the Gaza Strip and today lives in its impoverished Beach camp, in western Gaza City.

“One month ago, I was in Jaffa. For the first time I was able to visit my two daughters who live there. They took me to where my family house was located, close to the beach. However, I found nothing there,” she said, then added: “I wish one day the world leaders will stand by us – the refugees – not only in Gaza, but everywhere, and help us settle down and have a decent life. We are tired; it’s enough.”

“I was born in Gaza, but I am originally a refugee from Hamama [located 24 km north-east of the Gaza Strip]. It is hard to have to pass on the feeling of being a refugee to your children and grandchildren,” said 63-year-old Hussein Mustafa Miqdad, who lives in the impoverished Beach camp in western Gaza City. “Loss, deprivation and instability have tormented us years ago, and the same happens today to our children and grandchildren,” he added.

“On World Refugee Day, I ask the international community to work harder to improve the life of refugees in Gaza and elsewhere,” said 68-year-old Ahmad Kaskin, a Palestine refugee living in Gaza originally from Hamama, north-east of Gaza. ”It makes me sad to see and hear that other people from other countries have to experience the same loss as we did; this is not good. All people should be equal, and enjoy a peaceful life. Why is this happening? I don’t understand,” he added.

“I am a refugee from Bear al-Sabea [the largest city in the Negev desert in southern Israel]; my grandfather had a home and land there. But I was born in Gaza and have lived here my entire life,” said university graduate Sami al-Ajel, who works as a salesman in Beach camp. “I still believe that one day I will have the chance to go back to my land. On World Refugee Day, I want to tell the world that we are human beings, and we are tired of seeing our beloved ones being hurt, injured or killed in front of our own eyes, our businesses getting destroyed, our life scattered due to frequent conflicts. We deserve a good life,” he added.

“I know that 20 June is World Refugee Day, and on this occasion I want to send a message from a refugee to the whole world: help us and support us to have a good life,” said 21-year-old Mahmoud al-Zinati, who lives in Jabalia camp, northern Gaza, with his family. “I will always pass on the tales and stories I heard from my grandparents about our original home to my son, but I also want to enjoy a peaceful life with him here in Gaza, without constantly worrying that another conflict might break out. I want the world to give our little children the chance to live and grow up in a normal environment, where the word ‘refugees’ does not exist,” he added.

Palestine refugees are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”

To ask people and governments from around the world to stand with refugees, the UN Refugee Agency launched its petition for 2016, We Stand #WithRefugees. UNRWA reiterates this call. The petition will be delivered to UN headquarters in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting on 19 September 2016. Through this petition, world governments are asked to ensure that refugees can enjoy the basic right to education and a safe place to live and that they can get a work opportunity, develop their skills and positively contribute to their communities.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 74 million. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance .

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
c.gunness@unrwa.org

Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724
s.mshasha@unrwa.org

Najwa Sheikh Ahmad
Acting Public Information Officer - Gaza Field Office
Mobile: +972 597 920 542
Office: +972 8 2887 488
N.SHEIKH-AHMAD@UNRWA.ORG