The opening ceremony that took place today in UNRWA Siblin Training Centre in Saida, southern Lebanon, was attended by the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon, Mr. Matthias Schmale, the Acting Representative of UNICEF Lebanon, Mr. Luciano Calestini, the Consul of the Embassy of Palestine in Lebanon, Mr. Ramzi Mansour, the Communication advisor of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, Mrs. Lina Hamdan, the Mayor of Siblin, Mr. Mohammad Kobar and representatives of the Palestinian factions and leadership in Lebanon.
Speaking before the audience of the opening ceremony, Acting Representative of UNICEF-Lebanon Mr. Calestini said "UNICEF supports this annual sports programme, as it provides children and youth from Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese backgrounds with an opportunity to develop their self-esteem and skills and to build bridges among each other". Mr. Calestini added that "The event is inclusive, encouraging children with disabilities to participate and exercise their rights".
On his part, UNRWA Director in Lebanon, Mr. Matthias Schmale, noted that "Sport is an effective tool in building bridges between different communities and groups. As such, the Palestiniadi has all the components necessary to break down barriers and bring about social change". Mr. Schmale thanked UNICEF for its continuous support to UNRWA and to Palestine refugees, and concluded by wishing the contestants good luck and enjoyable time.
As for the Communication advisor of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, Mrs. Lina Hamdan, she stated that "the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, working under the Prime Minister's supervision and the support of the Government of Lebanon, contributed to various activities: supporting and removing various hurdles impeding progress in more than one file and on more than one level".
In addition to UNICEF generous support, the event would not have been possible without the support of UNRWA local partners namely, Palestinian Boys Scouts, Girls Guides Association, Human Call Association, Ghassan Kanafani Foundation, Abu Jihad Al Wazir Foundation, and Al -Sununu choir.
Palestiniadi will take place between 24 and 26 April in Siblin Training Centre in Saida and will include six different games: football, table tennis, running, volleyball, basketball, and chess. The event will be concluded on Sunday 26 April, when medals will be distributed to the winners and participants of the various competitions.