South African Embassy and UNRWA Mark Mandela International Day

23 July 2018
UNRWA staff and students paint their school marking the Nelson Mandela International Day. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Bruna Rego

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), in conjunction with the South African Embassy in Jordan, celebrated Nelson Mandela International Day. This year marked the centenary of his birth and to honour his memory the Embassy commissioned the painting of the UNRWA Jabal Amman Co-Educational School.

Embassy staff members, South African nationals living in Jordan and a group of UNRWA staff painted the walls and classrooms the school with the help of student volunteers from UNRWA schools in the surrounding area.

The world has celebrated Nelson Mandela International Day since 2010 when the United Nations declaring it an annual holiday marking the 18th of July in his honour. On this day the world recognizes his legacy and his many contributions to peace and justice, as well as his legacy in several areas including his frequent calls to, “Make of the world a better place.” Nelson Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in the village of Mvezo, Cape Province, now called Eastern Cape. Mr. Mandela was the first democratically-elected President of South Africa and served as President from 1994 to 1999.

His Excellency Ambassador of South Africa in Jordan, Mr. John Davies expressed his commitment to the fulfillment of traditions that have been developed to mark Mandela Day, including the symbolic tradition of dedicating 67 minutes of the day for voluntary, good deeds. H.E. Mr. Davies explained, “The number 67 symbolizes the years Nelson Mandela dedicated to the service of the people of South Africa and the world.”

On choosing a UNRWA school to mark the occasion, H.E. Mr. Davies said: “The Palestine refugee cause is inextricably bound up with the legacy of Nelson Mandela, as Mandela himself was one of the strongest supporters to the cause.”

The Director of UNRWA Operations in Jordan, Roger Davies expressed his gratitude to the South African delegation for this initiative, and for choosing an UNRWA school to mark the occasion, saying: “Today Palestine refugee students join millions around the entire world to mark the birth of a great man, and for the second time UNRWA Jordan is honored to host the occasion.”

UNRWA Director affirmed the importance of this event in light of the current context. The Agency promotes human rights education in its schools, and seeks to support symbolic activities that reinforce in students the value of community service and concepts of human rights and humanitarianism.

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. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. 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 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem 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
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
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