A group of young Palestinian refugees were invited to watch the Qantas Socceroos’ final training session ahead in Beirut of the international friendly against Lebanon.
The invitation was made through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – one of the oldest and largest organizations of the United Nations system, which serves a population of refugees who were made homeless over sixty years ago following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
There are close to 300,000 Palestine refugees in Lebanon, in 12 camps in different parts of the country. Two-thirds of the population are unemployed and live below the poverty line. Many have limited access to drinking water, stable electricity, or natural sunlight in their shelters.
Through the UNRWA, a group of children from refugee camps in the Beirut and Saida area were able to attend the final training session at Saida Stadium.
The children live in extremely bad conditions, with few opportunities to play in open areas, and even fewer in any space with grass or trees.
Despite these challenges and the conditions they face every day, the children were very excited to watch Australia’s best footballers train in person, with the Qantas Socceroos giving them a great experience..
Since 2000, the Australian Government has supported UNRWA to provide education, health, housing and infrastructure services to almost five million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.
In May 2012, Australia reaffirmed this commitment, when Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr signed a $90 million five-year partnership agreement in support of UNRWA’s core programs.