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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
1 November 2012

Syria statement, 1 November 2012

1 November 2012, Damascus, Syria -- On 28 and 29 October 2012, credible reports indicate that 13 Palestine refugees were among casualties from the armed conflict in rural Damascus and in the suburbs of Damascus neighbouring Yarmouk. These casualties occurred in a context of elevated levels of tension and conflict-related violence in rural Damascus and in the suburbs surrounding Yarmouk during the Eid al-Adha period. There was no clarity regarding which party was responsible for the deaths of Palestine refugees.

On 28 October, deaths caused by shells that hit Husseiniyah included eight Palestine refugees, six of whom were reported to be children playing in a public playground.

On 29 October, four Palestine refugees, members of the same family, were among eight people killed by an explosion when riding in a private commercial mini-bus in Hajr Al Aswad. On the same day in Yalda, a refugee was found dead after a period when he had gone missing and been presumed kidnapped.

UNRWA has informed the Syrian authorities of the events of 28 and 29 October and has emphasised the Agency’s grave and increasing concern regarding the vulnerability of Palestine refugees to the effects of the armed conflict in Syria.

This is the most recent instance of Palestine refugees being killed and injured in the Syria conflict. UNRWA deplores the tragic loss of life and is of the opinion that the deaths could have been avoided.

UNRWA repeats its profound concern regarding the destructive impact of the Syria conflict on Palestine refugees and other civilians, which it strongly deplores. To ensure the protection of civilians, the Agency reiterates once more that all sides must refrain from conducting the conflict in civilian areas and must comply with their obligations under international law.

The Agency also renews its calls to the authorities to afford protection from the effects of armed conflict for Palestine refugees and other civilians across Syria.

- 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, microfinance and emergency assistance.

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, supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the budget deficit stands at USD 37 million.

For more information, please contact:

Chris 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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