Vivicittà 2017: Children Run for Growing Together

21 May 2017
Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian refugee children “Run for Growing Together” during the Vivicittà Run. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Maysoun Mustafa

Around 800 children between the ages of 8 and 13 gathered on Sunday to participate in the ‘Vivicittà Run’ held in North Lebanon. Funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, supported by the Italian embassy in Beirut and Unione Italiana Sport Per Tutti, and organized in collaboration with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Municipality of Tripoli, the theme for this year was ‘Run for Growing Together’. 

Held in the multicultural city of Tripoli, Vivicittà – meaning ‘live the city’ in Italian – aims to create dialogue between cultures through recreational activities. Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian children ran during the Vivicittà, showing how sports can build bridges between communities. The race concluded with the distribution of medals to all participants.

Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Claudio Cordone, said, “Events like the Vivicittà Run give children the opportunity to come together and know about each other’s backgrounds and aspirations while having fun.” He thanked the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the Municipality of Tripoli for their support for children living in Lebanon.

Deputy Head of the Italian Embassy, Simona De Martino, underlined the importance of the run: “Through sports you can grow and learn respect, competition and loyalty, social integration, merit, team spirit, and socialization. These principles make children grow and become better adults, able to live in a diversified society, in peace and full respect of one another.”

Mayor of Tripoli, Engineer Ahmad Kamareddine, said, “It gives me pleasure to see hundreds of children from Lebanon, Palestine and Syria running together to enjoy each other’s company and break the barriers between their communities and get together to have a better life.”

“Sport always unites and breaks the differences between persons and communities and this is the importance of this run,” he added, “I cannot but congratulate the organizers of this race, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, UNRWA and the Sports Committee of Tripoli for this great activity that created dialogue between those groups from different cultures and brought them together.”

In previous years, the Vivicittà Run has been held in South Lebanon in the cities of Saida and Tyre. 

About Italian Cooperation 

The Italian Development Cooperation in Lebanon supports the efforts for a gradual stabilization of the socioeconomic and political situation in Lebanon. Active in the framework of emergency initiatives, the Italian Cooperation doesn’t represent only one of the lead partners for the Lebanese Government in activities of bilateral development cooperation, it also became a preferential interlocutor for several sectors and for the strategy of intervention adopted to respond to the Syrian Crisis.

In addition to preserving the commitment in favour of Palestine refugees, various projects had been funded through the bilateral channel in favour of the politics of social development (support to children, to women and gender issues, improvement of health services), environmental preservation (enhancing the environmental conditions, development of renewable energies, sustainable use of natural resources), infrastructural politics especially the ones related to the water supply network (water purification plants, wastewater treatment, installation of irrigation canals) and politics for waste disposal, agriculture and rural development, protection and valorization of the cultural heritage (preservation of archaeological sites, requalification of the historic urban areas, training).

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 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
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)258 90724
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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