This week B.C. Dodge & Mordant welcome Misbah Sheikh, Chief of the Private Partnerships Division at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
In her role, Misbah manages partnerships for the agency. IRUSA is a leading partner with UNRWA, and that partnership brought her to the IRUSA headquarters in Virginia for a visit. As she sat down with B.C. Dodge and Mordant (virtually), she shed light on the important work her organization does, and how IRUSA’s partnership helps.
UNRWA is the only UN agency that is mandated to provide relief and social services to about 5 million refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. Many refugees had to flee in 1948 and some again in 1967. UNRWA is the only agency that ensures the families of these refuges have basic human rights, such as places to go if they need healthcare. They run schools, provide social services, and partner with organizations like IRUSA to deliver food in Ramadan and provide shelter when winter arrives. Despite popular belief, the middle east does get quite cold.
Misbah shares her experience helping refugees affected by the recent bombings in Syria—Palestinians who were already seeking refuge, having to flee once again. “When they leave, it’s whatever you can take with you,” she says.
She also describes the reality for refugees within Palestine itself. “You have refugees in Gaza for instance who have been there for 67 years,” she says, “who have grown up in camps.”
She paints a picture for listeners with her words, describing houses that look close to normal on the outside, but lack insulation and basic sanitation. “You have people who are living in a state that is very bleak, very desolate,” she says. “Sometimes we feel the world community has forgotten Palestinian refugees. There is no hope that we see of, in terms of a solution, which is sad.”
In this episode, Misbah opens listeners’ eyes to the reality of a dire situation. “I can’t imagine the trauma that these children must have faced,” she says, “waking up in the middle of the night and remembering having to run from your house taking whatever you could at the time and then coming back and seeing your house in shambles, in rubble.”
Tune in to learn about Misbah’s important work, and how you can be a part of the solution. Learn about innovative programs that IRUSA supports to help children develop coping skills to deal with the trauma associated with being a refugee.
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