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As a UN relief co-op, this Northeastern student is helping shelter Palestinian refugees of Israel-Hamas war

Palestinian men walk amidst the rubble of a UNRWA school in Gaza City, which was destroyed overnight in an Israeli airstrike on October 8, 2023.

When Sebastian Chávez Da Silva sought a co-op at United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, he never imagined he’d be thrust into the middle of a war. With a passion for humanitarian logistics, Chávez Da Silva applied to work for UNRWA in early May. After a fairly speedy onboarding, he arrived in Amman, Jordan, on Aug. 9 to provide technical support to the U.N. agency’s Chief Central Support Services Division.

The agency provides assistance and protection to some 5.5 million Palestinian refugees in the region who’ve been displaced or are in need of humanitarian aid as a result of the decades long strife between Israel and Palestinians. Arriving well before the ongoing bloodshed, Chávez Da Silva says he’s been working around the clock to help the international agency support its personnel on the frontlines in Gaza — all of whom are helping countless Palestinians.

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