In the summer of 2011, I interned for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, a humanitarian agency that provides assistance, protection and advocacy for some 5 million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli Conflict, UNRWA was established by the United Nations General Assembly. In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA’s mandate.
As an intern with the UNRWA Representative Office in New York, I attended General Assembly, Security Council and UN coordination meetings on behalf of the agency. I also monitored the political, economic and social situation in the Middle East and researched and prepared position papers on a variety of topics, as well as briefing notes and speeches for senior UNRWA staff for important meetings and discussions.
My experience expanded my interest in and understanding of a group of people with legitimate national rights, as defined by the resolutions of the United Nations. Learning about the difficulties Palestinian refugees face on a daily basis has motivated me to dedicate my legal education and career to promoting and defending the rights of these people, whose suffering has gone on for far too long.
Despite these difficulties, I met some of the most inspirational and triumphant individuals who just wanted their voice to be heard, and being a BHRC Summer Fellow allowed me to be that voice for a summer. I hope to be that voice in the future and find a just solution for people who have been ignored by the international community for far too long.