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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
10 February 2013

UNRWA statement on killing of 12 Palestine refugees in Syria

بيان الأونروا الصحفي حول مقتل 12 لاجئ فلسطيني في سورية

10 February 2013
East Jerusalem

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) draws attention to the rising number of deaths and injuries among Palestine refugees in Syria and repeats its grave concern about this trend.

Credible reports indicate that on 7 February, 2013, 12 Palestine refugees were killed and many others injured in Yarmouk, a suburb of Damascus, as the armed conflict continues to rage there. Five of those killed were members of the same family. Many of the casualties were reportedly caused by the use of heavy weapons. These deaths mark the end of a particularly tragic week for Palestine refugees in Syria, with an estimated total of 30 killed. The overwhelming majority lost their lives in Damascus and Rif Damascus.

UNRWA deplores the unrelenting armed conflict in Syria and the extreme suffering it is inflicting on civilians, including Palestine refugees. In recent statements, the Agency has highlighted the crisis of large numbers compelled to leave the refugee camps in Rif Damascus to seek safety elsewhere, and the plight of those who remain in the camps. These Palestine refugees are unable to move safely, are subject to severe movement restrictions and face escalating threats from shelling and armed clashes.

Poverty and deprivation are increasing in the Palestinian community, exacerbating vulnerabilities that existed prior to the Syria conflict, and lack of access to food and essential services continues to cause serious distress. These developments have left the Palestine refugee community, alongside their Syrian neighbours, profoundly traumatized and fearful of the future.

To help address this grave humanitarian situation, UNRWA reiterates its demand that all sides comply with their obligations under international law, refrain from conducting the armed conflict in civilian residential areas, and take steps to ensure the protection of Palestine refugees and other civilians across Syria. UNRWA also maintains its strong appeal to all sides to make genuine efforts to resolve their differences through political dialogue.

– Ends –

Background information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at USD 68 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness

UNRWA Spokesperson

Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659

Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson

Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724

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