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

UNRWA Condemns the Death of Member of Staff in Syria
14 August 2013
East Jerusalem

الاونروا تدين مقتل موظف من موظفيها في سوريا وتكرر مناشدتها جميع الأطراف إنهاء كافة اشكال العنف

UNRWA strongly condemns the killing of Mr Imad Abdelhafeez, the eighth staff member to lose his life in the Syria conflict, and the second in less than a month. Born in 1963, Mr Abdelhafeez joined UNRWA in 1990 and served as a Physical Education Specialist Teacher in the Damascus area since 2001.
The facts surrounding his tragic death are yet to be formally verified. Mr Abdelhafeez, a resident of the Al Mojtahed neighbourhood of central Damascus, telephoned a relative on the afternoon of 7 August and was not seen or heard from until the following morning, when his remains were identified in the Al Mojtahed Hospital morgue. The body reportedly bore signs of gunshot wounds.
Mr Abdelhafeez had lost his wife to cancer only three months ago. He is survived by an 18-year-old daughter and two sons, 16 and 9 years old. UNRWA offers its sincere condolences to his family and friends.
While the facts surrounding Mr Abdelhafeez’s death remain unverified, there are some indications that kidnappers may have been involved. Kidnappings remain a common and destructive feature of the conflict in Syria and a harrowing reminder of the need for all parties to strengthen protection of civilians and safeguard human life.
Along with Syrians, Palestine refugees, including UNRWA staff and their dependants, have been targeted by kidnappings. Palestine refugees are already traumatized by armed conflict, frequent displacement and a dire humanitarian situation. Their fears are significantly deepened and their vulnerabilities reinforced when they are targeted or killed by kidnappers.
UNRWA has informed the Syrian authorities of the death of Imad Abdelhafeez and has requested an investigation to ensure full accountability for those responsible. UNRWA deplores the immense suffering that continues to affect civilian communities across Syria. In the strongest terms, UNRWA reiterates its appeal for all concerned parties to end all forms of violence, comply with their obligations under international law and resolve the conflict in Syria through mediated dialogue and negotiations.
– 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 US$ 58.5 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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