Unipal (A Universitiesí Trust for Educational Exchange with Palestinians) seeks to facilitate a two-way process of education; providing
English-language teaching in Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon and introducing British students to a knowledge and understanding of the situation and daily lives of refugees.
- sends volunteers to the Middle East to work with Palestinians on a short-term basis in the summer, to teach English or to take part in other
activities as needed
- brings Palestinian teachers of English to Britain in order to study language courses and refresh their language by living with British
- in the past has had long term volunteers teaching students and adults in need of better English.
During the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 over three-quarters of a million Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes in terror. They settled in
refugee camps in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan and Syria. Despite repeated UN resolutions appealing to Israel to allow the refugees
to return to their homes, they have consistently been refused permission
to do so.
In 1950 the United Nations relief and works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) was established to organise the camps and meet the basic needs
of the refugees. The scale of the task grew in 1967 when the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip created a second wave of refugees.
Today there are 3.25 million refugees registered with UNRWA, of whom 1.07 million live in 59 refugee camps characterised by chronic overcrowding
and poverty. As refugees they have also suffered from extreme denial of human, civil and political rights, and often find themselves condemned to a future without hope and international concern. Despite the signing
of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accord, the basic living conditions of the Palestinians have changed very little.
The Importance of Education
Whether they live in the Occupied Territories or neighbouring Arab countries, Palestinian refugees are faced with tremendous obstacles in breaking
out of the cycle of deprivation and despair. Finding employment and being able to support themselves and their families is their greatest ambition, and depends upon adequate educational provision.
Palestinians need good English for skilled jobs, to enter university and to communicate with the outside world. UNRWA does provide some English
teaching, which Unipal supports with supplementary classes by native speakers.
Unipal and Education
Unipal was formed in 1972 by Eleanor Aitken, herself a language teacher, who on a journey through the Middle East was shocked at the plight of the
Palestinian refugees. Since then a total of over 600 young Unipal volunteers have run summer teaching projects with refugee children in the camps.
Over 30 long-term volunteers have worked for a year or more teaching in the Occupied Territories and Lebanon, and over 60 Palestinian teachers of
English have been brought to Britain for intensive language courses.
While British volunteers have had a unique opportunity to learn at first hand about the Palestiniansí history, culture and present circumstances,
Palestinian teachers have been able to live the language that they teach. The process of exchange brings human warmth and personal experience to the mutual benefit of learning.
How you can help
Unipal is a registered charity which is dependent on donations and volunteers. If you would like to make a donation, or initiate a covenant (which
allows us to reclaim the income tax that you have already paid), please write to us at the address given on the Contact Unipal page. Alternatively, you can now make a donation online by visiting the online donations page.
If you are interested in volunteering or hosting a Palestinian teacher, again please contact us for further information and be sure to check out
the relevant pages on this website!