Hundreds of children from United Nations-run schools in the Jericho area of the occupied Palestinian territory today created a massive aerial image jointly with the renowned artist John Quigley to send out a peace message to the world.
The children, who attend schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), gathered at the foot of the Mount of Temptation, outside Jericho, to form the shape of the Peace Dove created by the artist Pablo Picasso. They were directed by Mr. Quigley, who has created mass images from groups of people for over a quarter of a century.
The image by the Palestinian schoolchildren was created as part of the Peace on Earth project, which will stage concert that will be broadcast across the world from Bethlehem’s Manger Square on Christmas Day.
“These kids are planting seeds of peace into the heart of the Middle East conflict. They deserve the kind of positive future we wish for all children,” said Quigley.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi said: “The world needs to sit up and listen to the youth of this region. Their message of peace is essential. It is the voice of the next generation.”
Meanwhile, UNRWA has entered a partnership with the Spanish football club Real Madrid under which eight Social Sport Schools will be established in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for the benefit of 10,000 Palestinian refugee children.
“The education of new generations, who constitute the future, is the essential axis of peacebuilding in the Middle East,” said Mr. Grandi at the signing yesterday of the partnership agreement with Florentino Pérez, the President of Real Madrid Foundation and Real Madrid FC.
“With about 700 schools across the Middle East, UNRWA emphasizes quality education; access for all refugee children to a sound education; the learning of the principles of tolerance and respect, gender equality and self-improvement. This joint project that UNRWA and Real Madrid Foundation have undertaken… promotes all these things,” he said.
The project is intended to give Palestinian refugee children the opportunity to practise sports and learn values such as teamwork and to increase their self-esteem.