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[OPIRG-EVENTS] "Still at the Heart of the Matter: Palestinian Refugees" - 7 pm Thurs. May 9
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TO: ALL NEWS MEDIA
FROM: CEPAL – the Canadian-Palestinian Educational Exchange
"Still at the Heart of the Matter: Palestinian Refugees". The launch of
CEPAL’s Summer 2002 Overseas Program, featuring keynote speaker Professor
Thursday, May 9th, 2002
Room 269, West Block, Parliament Hill
Admission is free.
“Still at the Heart of the Matter: Palestinian Refugees,” an evening event
to launch CEPAL’s Summer 2002 Overseas Program, will be held on Thursday,
May 9th at 7:00 pm in Room 269, West Block, Parliament Hill, Ottawa.
Professor Elia Zuriek from Queen’s University will open the evening with his
keynote address entitled “Palestinian Refugees and the Middle East
Conflict.” Professor Zuriek will talk about leading crisis issues with a
focus on the refugee dimension of the conflict.
Works by Palestinian children presented by Shannon Dow. “From the Eyes of A
Child: Human Rights for the Children of Bourj El-Barajneh” is a photo
project initiated by Dow with her students in Bourj el-Barajneh, one of the
Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon where she volunteered with CEPAL in the
summer of 2001. This display presents the photographs and letters of her
students and gives voice to their view of the world.
CEPAL Summer 2001
Participant Jordan Topp will summarize volunteer accomplishments in the
refugee camps last summer.
Launch of Summer 2002 Program
Giulia El Dardiry coordinated last year’s overseas summer program and will
introduce the goals set out for this upcoming summer’s challenge.
An *auction and raffle* will take place so attendees can participate in
helping to make CEPAL’s Summer 2002 Overseas Program a reality.
This event is presented by CEPAL – the Canadian-Palestinian Educational
Exchange and co-sponsored by Libby Davies, MP Vancouver East
To book interviews or for other enquiries, please contact: Madalena Santos
at tel: (613) 236.7825 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is CEPAL?
CEPAL - the Canadian-Palestinian Educational Exchange - is a not-for-profit
organization founded in 1996 by young Canadians who share a deep commitment
to the respect of human dignity and human rights of all people. CEPAL’s
objective is to assist the Palestinian refugees in the pursuit of their
basic human rights by increasing their access to education and by raising
public awareness in Canada about their struggle. In Canada, CEPAL works in
cooperation with a wide range of organizations, and is supported by
community organizations and individuals who donate their time and money.
Why Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon?
The situation that confronts Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon is worsening
daily. As much of the world focuses on the difficulties facing Palestinians
in the West Bank and Gaza, the dire situation of the Palestinian Diaspora in
Lebanon is largely forgotten. Poverty, health crises and illiteracy are all
on the rise among Palestinians in Lebanon. Over 60 percent of Palestinian
families in Lebanon are living below the UN-established poverty-line, and
they form a greater percentage of UN-defined “hardship cases” than any other
Palestinian community (including Gaza). A recent survey of war-widows in
the Bourj el-Barajneh camp, which contains a very high number of
female-headed households, revealed that nearly 80 percent of women are
illiterate. Nearly every school is operating on double shifts, and 40
percent of the Palestinian refugee population in Lebanon is now considered
illiterate. In spite of this reality, most donor agencies believe that the
Palestinian issue in Lebanon is being “solved” and have been channeling
their assistance to the West Bank and Gaza. As the Palestinian population in
Lebanon sinks further into political oblivion, they are leaderless and
voiceless, stranded in refugee camps that have only sporadic running water
Why Language Training?
CEPAL’s language programs will not solve the precarious predicament of
Palestinians in Lebanon. However, English and French language skills can
open up options in a largely optionless future. Noted author and
anthropologist Rosemary Sayigh suggests ‘sending volunteers to work with
Palestinian NGOs in Lebanon e.g. in children’s summer camps or teaching
English’ is a key role North American NGOs should be playing. In addition
to language training, CEPAL has incorporated computer training into its
Professor Elia Zureik teaches sociology at Queen's University in Kingston,
Ontario. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on the
Palestinians. His latest monograph Palestinian Refugees and the Peace
Process appeared in 1996. Since 1992, Professor Zureik has been a member of
the Palestinian delegation to the Refugee Working Group of the Middle East
Peace Process. Between February-August 2000, he spent his sabbatical in
Ramallah on the West Bank, during which time he prepared for the Palestinian
negotiating team the position paper on refugees.
Giulia El Dardiry, Shannon Dow, and Jordan Topp worked with CEPAL in the
summer of 2001. They lived and worked with Palestinian refugees in Bourj
el-Barajneh, Shatila and Wavell camps in Lebanon. El-Dardiry coordinated the
Summer 2001 Program which enabled volunteers to provide English and French
language instruction, as well as basic computer skills to children and
Giulia El Dardiry recently completed her studies in Anthropology at the
University of McGill and will continue her studies in Journalism this summer
at Concordia University.
Shannon Dow recently completed her studies in International Development and
Anthropology with a concentration in Medical Anthropology at the University
of McGill. She is looking forward to the challenge of being one of this
year’s Summer 2002 Overseas Program Coordinators.
Jordan Topp recently completed her studies in Social Work at McGill
University. Jordan will share the challenge as one of the Overseas
Coordinators in Lebanon for the Summer 2002 Program.
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