BERLIN/JERUSALEM, May 8, 2012 (WAFA) - A new exhibition opened in the Deutsches Architektur Zentrum (DAZ) in Berlin to showcase innovative community participation in urban planning to improve conditions in Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East, said an UNRWA press release on Tuesday.
It stated that 'Space, Time, Dignity, Rights: Improving Palestinian Refugee Camps' exhibition puts the spotlight on cutting-edge, grassroots involvement in planning and improving the camps.
This initiative is pioneered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel said, 'Communities must be centrally involved in shaping all aspects of their own futures. Planning the urban spaces where they live is an essential part of that and nowhere is this more important than in the camps where UNRWA works, in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank.'
UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi said that for Palestinian refugees, the act of designing and shaping their own spaces has instilled a sense of dignity and optimism.
The exhibition introduced viewers to the urban reality of the camps, which are home to 1.5 million refugees out of almost 5 million living in UNRWA’s fields of operation.
It focused on the recent 'Camp Improvement Program' launched by UNRWA with the support of BMZ to improve the living conditions in Palestinian refugee camps, which have evolved in the last 60 years from temporary tent cities into complex and diversified living environments.
While camps in more isolated locations are still in a state of under-development, with refugees living in zinc roofed and makeshift houses, other camps have become hyper-congested masses of multi-storey buildings, where poverty and extreme overcrowding are rife.
The exhibition featured new works developed in partnerships between camp communities, UNRWA, local and international architects, planners and artists.
The exhibition was curated by the University of Stuttgart’s Chair of International Urbanism Philipp Misselwitz in collaboration with the Infrastructure and UNRWA’s Camp Improvement Program.