Occupied Palestinian territory | News | WHO and UNRWA join Shufat camp community to celebrate the Healthy Camp Initiative, February 2016

WHO and UNRWA join Shufat camp community to celebrate the Healthy Camp Initiative, February 2016

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Shufat CampJerusalem 23 March 2016 – The WHO office in the occupied Palestine territory, in cooperation with UNRWA, joined in celebrations at the project conclusion of the Shufat Healthy Camp initiative, a community-led multisectoral effort that aimed to address the social determinants of health within the camp.

WHO sponsored the one-year initiative under its right to health advocacy program, which allocated US$ 50 000 for activities designed by the 5 nongovernmental organizations in the camp, and led by the Youth Activity Centre, to encourage advocacy with duty bearers and rights-holders.  The closing ceremony drew hundreds of camp residents and featured a gallery for students’ paintings on environmental health, photos of project activities, advocacy material, women products utilizing recycled materials, and a 15-minute film documenting the initiative produced by the camp civil-based organizations.

“Experience from the camp demonstrated that strong community leadership is essential to the implementation and sustainability of a Healthy Camp project” said Dr Rockenschaub, WHO Head of Office in the occupied Palestine territory. “The nature of the camp’s health issues makes relationships with civil-based organizations crucial to the success of the project.”

“Shufat camp has unique challenges and further support is needed to sustain the initiative, building on existing experience and structures,” added Dr Umaya Khammash, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Chief of Health Programme in the West Bank. 

Shufat refugee camp, located in Jerusalem, receives minimal services from the Israeli-run municipality and living conditions in the camp have steadily worsened in the past 15 years. Residents live in cramped conditions, with inadequate and hazardous infrastructure, and suffer from a lack of law enforcement and other emergency services. Access to Jerusalem has been severely hampered by the construction of the wall around the camp and the surrounding neighborhoods, leaving access to Jerusalem possible through one checkpoint only.

Shufat Camp 283 members of the community organizations benefited from 66 hours of training on leadership skills, right to health issues, gender mainstreaming and drug prevention. Awareness-raising activities included a summer camp, open days, drama shows, cleaning campaigns and a marathon, targeting 3000 participants of men and women of different age groups and abilities.  The closing ceremony featured a gallery for students’ paintings on environmental health, photos of the activities, advocacy material, women products utilizing recycled material, and a 15 minute film documenting the initiative done by the camp civil-based organizations.

The representative of the youth civil-based organizations Mr Fathi Saleh thanked WHO and UNRWA and said that a main outcome of the project was strengthening cooperation between civil-based organizations through joint work teams which was essential to bring about change in the ways health and environmental issues are tackled in the camp.

The Healthy Camp Initiative is modeled on WHO’s Healthy Cities Programme and aims to activate the community to take collective action, identify community needs and generate solutions to common problems. UNRWA supported a participatory needs assessment conducted to identify urgent problems, and a strategic plan was designed with the involvement of all camp stakeholders and civil-based organizations.

WHO will continue to engage other United Nations agencies to support the camp residents and to build on the lessons learned and achievements of the initiative.

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