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Sunday, December 16, 2012
PRESS RELEASE: Statement by UNRWA on todays events in Yarmouk camp, Syria

UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi has appealed to the Syrian
authorities, and all parties to the conflict, to safeguard the security of
Palestine refugees wherever they reside in Syria. Grandi's appeal takes on
an urgent nature following today's events.

PRESS RELEASE: Statement by UNRWA on today's events in Yarmouk camp, Syria

STATEMENT BY UNRWA ON TODAY'S EVENTS IN YARMOUK CAMP, SYRIA

UNRWA PRESS RELEASE / For immediate release

Horrific images captured by news agencies, and reports of numerous
casualties and the flight of Palestine refugees from Yarmouk camp are being
followed up and assessed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
(UNRWA) with extreme worry and grave concern.

Initial reports indicate that air strikes hit the centre of Yarmouk, and the
camp is said to be in a chaotic state; with ongoing fighting in the southern
parts of the camp inching north-wards, and reports coming in of families
trying to escape on foot as cars and other forms of transportation are not
able to move within the camp.

UNRWA has repeatedly warned that if all parties to the Syrian armed conflict
fail to fulfil their obligations to protect Palestine refugees and respect
their neutrality, the consequences would be devastating and long lasting.
The Agency has advocated to maintain the neutrality of the 525,000 Palestine
refugees in Syria and not implicate them in the conflict. The horrible
events of today raise serious questions about the stability and protection
of the Palestine refugees in Syria.

Thus far, a significant number of Palestine refugees, as well as Syrians,
have been killed, injured and compelled to leave. The killings in Yarmouk
today send a clear and unfortunate signal that calls by UNRWA and others on
all parties to spare civilians and to respect the neutrality of Palestine
refugees are going unheeded.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi has appealed to the Syrian
authorities, and all parties to the conflict, to safeguard the security of
Palestine refugees wherever they reside in Syria. Grandi's appeal takes on
an urgent nature following today's events.

The Agency will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves, and its
dedicated staff will continue to assess the situation and render any needed
assistance.

--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.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724
s.mshasha@unrwa.org

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