A lullaby for children sleeping under bombs in Gaza — Global Issues
“I endured the artillery’s roar, the fire in the nursery, yet I stand tall,” read the lyrics. “I weathered the paralyzing fear under the covers, felt everyone turn their backs, yet I stand tall.” When he wrote the song in October, shortly after the war began, Marwán, whose father grew up in UNRWA tents in the Tulkarm refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, decided to donate the rights to raise donations for the Spanish committee of UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian Refugees.
“UNRWA is the lifeline that sustained my father since birth. He was born in a refugee camp and attended an UNRWA school, where he received all his education until he was 18. It’s always been there for him, providing food, support, education,” he explains in an interview with Beatriz Barral from UN News. “They continue to support millions of Palestinians, all Gazans, and it was the least I could do. Without a political solution, there’s little more we can do than rally and offer our help”.
The “Urgent Lullaby for Palestine” addresses “brutal injustices and the deprivation of rights,” the “neglect Palestinians face from the international community,” yet it repeats in each verse: they endure.\
“Despite the neglect, the abandonment, the bombings, the atrocities inflicted on children, the deaths… I want to spotlight Palestinian resilience, their ability to keep going, even in dire conditions,” he explains.
Marwán has visited the West Bank several times, where distant relatives of his father still reside. He even recorded a song in front of what was his father’s school in Tulkarm.
Asked about accusations against UNRWA, Marwán expresses deep sorrow. “To label UNRWA as problematic or supportive of terrorism is utterly unprecedented and nonsensical. It solely strives to aid people in the direst circumstances and bring dignity to Palestinian lives time and time again. That’s all that concerns me. I’m focused on supporting UNRWA. Regardless of criticism directed at me for aligning with UNRWA, or criticism against UNRWA itself, it doesn’t faze me. I march on, saddened by the lack of support, by governments withdrawing aid, but we press on,” he says.
Marwán urges anyone hesitant to donate to UNRWA to “thoroughly research what’s happening in Palestine.”
“Learn about UNRWA’s work since 1948, which has been impeccable and significant. I would urge them to consider that a genocide is occurring, and that Palestinians truly rely solely on UNRWA. It’s as straightforward as that. They have nothing else, but the funds received through UNRWA,” he argues.
The suspension of funds to UNRWA is “an appalling disgrace”
Presenting the song at the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid on Tuesday, with Spain’s Minister for Youth and Childhood Sira Rego in attendance, Marwán described the suspension of funds as “heartbreaking.” This comes after Israel accused several workers of involvement in the October 7 attacks, that left 1,200 Israelis dead and 250 taken hostage, despite UNRWA firing the employees and launching an investigation.
With his song, he hopes to prevent the Gaza war from fading into obscurity.
“In Palestine, human rights violations occur daily We’re not talking about a conventional war between two countries, one defending itself against the other”, he says.
“I only place faith in international judicial intervention”
Marwán is appalled by what he terms “flagrant violations of international law.”
“After World War II, international legal mechanisms were established to prevent such atrocities, yet people are circumventing international laws. Even the countries that talk the most about defending human rights are the ones that are most supporting this, but they are the countries that have the most power in the UN because they have the right to veto [in the UN Security Council],” he laments.
The artist sharply criticizes the media coverage of the war, requiring individuals to seek information “via Twitter, through accounts of Palestinian journalists, or on Instagram.”
“We’re allowing a genocide to happen in prime time, with journalism aiding the perpetrators. It’s hard to comprehend. It’s because there are vested interests. There’s no other explanation than Western self-interest. There cannot be any other explanation,” he says.
Marwán believes a solution and a peaceful future can only be achieved through “international judicial intervention.” “It’s the only beacon of hope right now,” he concludes.
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed by the interviewee are his own and do not represent the position of the United Nations Organization.