Young Gaza Photographers, Filmmakers Sweep UNRWA/EU Prizes

JERUSALEM, October 26, 2013 (WAFA) – Young photographers and filmmakers from the Gaza Strip swept the first and second place prizes in a combined United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and European Union (EU) 2013 photo and film competition for young Palestine refugees.

The results, announced at Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center in Ramallah on Friday, named Bilal Khaled Telawi, from Khan Younis camp in Gaza, as first prize winner in the photo competition, followed by Mo’taz Ibrahim al-A’araj, from Rafah camp, Gaza, in second place and Najd Imad Abed al-Al, from Beddawi camp in Lebanon, in third place.

In the film competition, 20-year-old Salah Alhaw from Gaza received the first prize for his film “Dance on the Rooftop.

He said that his video attempted to portray the “overcrowding and difficulties Palestinian refugees in the camps face on a daily basis.” Even so, he adds: “They are determined to go on, with a love for life and increasing home for a better future.”

The second prize also went to a young refugee from Gaza, 21-year-old Hussam Abu Dan, who said that his film, Droplets, “illustrated the use of creative means by Palestinian children to create games.” The film shows several young children collecting droplets from laundry hanging on different clothes lines, and later coming together to create bubbles.

Wajeh Youth Group in Burj Barajneh camp in Lebanon received the third prize for their film, “Alleyways without Light Bulbs,” which illustrates the difficulty of life in Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon using a unique style.

Receiving honorable mentions for their films were Samar Abu Ouf for “Bread ‘Life’ Line” and Emad Abu-Shawiesh for “String of Fear.”

The event also marked UN Day. The Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Felipe Sanchez, said: “It is noteworthy that we are announcing the winners on this special day, UN Day, when the international community comes together to recognize the anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations and its continued work in connecting the people of the world together, to work towards human rights and peace for all.”

The annual event, supported by the EU, gives Palestine refugee youth an opportunity to showcase their creativity through film and photos, said an EU press release. The Agency received submissions from all UNRWA areas of operations except Syria, where the ongoing conflict prevents young people from participating in such events.

This year, UNRWA and the EU have combined the photo and film competitions and invited all Palestine refugees to submit original photos, photo essays and short films on the theme of ‘clothes line’, drawing on their experiences as refugees to achieve unique and creative interpretations.

‘The EU has consistently supported this competition in recent years in an effort to give a voice to young Palestine refugees internationally. The collaboration between the EU and UNRWA in this event is part of the strong partnership between the two organizations, aiming at meeting the needs of Palestinian refugees and investing in their long-term future and the development of the region as a whole,’ said Deputy EU Representative David Geer.