UNSpecial N° 623 — Novembre – November 2003

During the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, many Palestinian women became refugees – some were displaced for a second time in
1967. These times of hardship forced many women to sell their finely embroidered dresses in order to support their families.

Today as in the past, skilled Palestinian women embroider entirely by hand not only for preservation of their tradition but also to supplement the family incomes

In the Gaza Strip, the United Nation Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) runs a non-profit self-supporting embroidery programme at ten women’s programme centres to produce articles for sale at the UNRWA Sulafa Embroidery Shop in Gaza city. Women are paid for what they produce and are able to meet some of the financial needs of their families. In the ongoing strife since the second Intifada broke out three years ago, many thousands of Palestinian refugees have been forced into poverty.

The programme, which employed over 500 women before the intifada, has been forced to reduce the number of participaning women to 200 as the harsh situation characterised by road closures, poverty or unemployment has affected sales of Sulafa’s products.

All Sulafa’s embroidery patterns are traditional, the oldest being the geometric and abstract patterns still found in Sinai bedouin embroidery. The most common colour used in their work is deep red.

The items will be sold outside the UNOG cafeteria on Monday, 24 November 2003 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. To order items outside this date, please contact UNRWA Geneva Liaison Office in Geneva (Ext. 72057/71166)

They will also be sold at the 9 Annual Solidarity Fair at WHO which will be held on Friday, 28 November 2003 from 11 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the main lobby.