September 19, 2019

Laila Mokhiber, Director of Communications

SATURDAY at NYC’s Battery Park: Runners Embark on 250-Mile Relay Run to Washington DC to Support U.S. Humanitarian Assistance for Palestine Refugees

FRIDAY at CUNY School of Law: Palestine refugees share experiences at “Refugees Reimagined” event

WASHINGTON – Beginning Saturday, UNRWA USA is partnering with Right To Movement Palestine as a group of runners comprised of Palestine refugees, Palestinians in the United States, and Americans jointly run 250 miles in a relay from New York to Washington DC that will culminate Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol building to deliver a message to Congress that crucial funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) needs to be reinstated. 

UNRWA is the only United Nations body responsible for delivering assistance, education, and protection to 5.4 million Palestine refugees living in the Middle East today. Palestine refugees make up over 20% of the world’s 25.9 million refugees. UNRWA USA is an independent nonprofit organization that provides support for UNRWA’s humanitarian work.

The United States, UNRWA’s single largest donor for decades, has ceased its historical commitment to the Agency, which previously represented more than 30% of its annual budget. Between 2010-2017, the U.S. government contributed an average of more than $350 million to UNRWA every year, disbursing $365 million in 2017. This year, the United States has not contributed a single dollar to the Agency. 

More than five million people depend on the Agency’s critical programs, including education for 532,000 children, primary health care for 3.5 million, and food assistance for more than one million destitute refugees.

The first-ever Relay Run for Refugees will begin on Saturday, September 21, at Battery Park in New York City to align with the start of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and end on Wednesday, September 25, in Washington DC.  

In each of the five cities through which participants will run, UNRWA USA and local community partners will host a “Refugees Reimagined” event designed to give participants the chance to share their experiences growing up being educated in UNRWA schools, living in refugee camps, and being served by UNRWA health facilities.

The New York “Refugees Reimagined” event will be held on the eve of the relay kick-off, at 7 p.m., on Friday, September 20, at CUNY School of Law, 2 Court Square, in Long Island City, in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

As they run from New York through Clifton, N.J., Philadelphia, Wilmington, Del., and Baltimore to Washington, participating runners aim to personally raise $100,000 from supporters in the states they pass through to support urgent humanitarian assistance for Palestine refugees. 

On Wednesday, September 25, at 12:30 p.m., the runners will arrive at the Lincoln Memorial and run the final stretch to the U.S. Capitol building. Supporters are invited to attend the finish-line celebration at 1 pm at the Potomac River Running Store, 919 F Street NW, in Washington DC. 

While in DC, the runners will be joined by alumni of UNRWA schools -- current and former Palestine refugees who attended UNRWA schools and now live in the United States -- for meetings with lawmakers and their staffs to educate them on why supporting UNRWA is a critical humanitarian investment that also supports U.S. national security interests and stability in the region.

All events are open to the media, and interview opportunities with runners, Palestine refugees, and UNRWA USA leadership are welcome. Please contact laila@unrwausa.org for details and to arrange coverage.


WHAT: Relay Run for Refugees and “Refugees Reimagined” events

WHEN: Friday, September 20 through Wednesday, September 25, 2019

WHERE: NYC to Washington, D.C., with stops in Clifton, N.J., Philadelphia, Wilmington, Del., and Baltimore

WHO: UNRWA USA and Right to Movement Palestine runners

WHY: To raise awareness about the funding crisis facing UNRWA and deliver a message that UNRWA needs America's investment

Details available at unrwausa.org/relay-run-for-refugees 



UNRWA USA is an independent nonprofit organization that provides support for the humanitarian work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). UNRWA USA aims to educate the general American public about the situation of Palestine refugees and generate support for UNRWA’s programs. US taxpayers are eligible for tax deductions for donations made through UNRWA USA. unrwausa.org | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram