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Monday, December 17, 2012
UNRWA PRESS RELEASE : YARMOUK, SYRIA: HUMANITARIAN NEEDS RISING AS RESIDENTS FLEE FIGHTING, SEEK SAFETY IN UNRWA SCHOOLS

UNRWA PRESS RELEASE

YARMOUK, SYRIA: HUMANITARIAN NEEDS RISING AS RESIDENTS FLEE FIGHTING,
SEEK SAFETY IN UNRWA SCHOOLS

17 December 2012

Damascus, Syria

As the Syria conflict and its impact on civilians continue to escalate,
UNRWA is exerting all efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of
Palestine refugees. Over the past several days, Syrians and the over 150,000
Palestine refugees resident in Yarmouk, a suburb of Damascus, have
experienced particularly intense armed engagements involving the use of
heavy weapons and aircraft. Credible reports point to civilian deaths,
injuries and destruction of property in Yarmouk. There are also waves of
significant displacement as Yarmouk residents, including UNRWA staff and
their families, scramble to seek safety as the armed conflict persists.

UNRWA is how housing over 2,600 displaced persons in its facilities and
Damascus area schools, and the number is growing rapidly. The Agency is
working in coordination with humanitarian partners, including the Syrian
Arab Red Crescent, United Nations agencies and the Danish Refugee Council to
ensure that people in need have shelter, mattresses, blankets, food and
other essential items.

Palestine refugees are also fleeing beyond Damascus. Although the scale and
direction of this movement cannot be precisely determined, some have made
their way to Lebanon. Initial reports indicate that well over 2,000 people
have attempted or are attempting to enter Lebanon.

UNRWA remains gravely concerned about the safety of the Palestine refugee
population in Syria and appeals to all parties to refrain from actions that
endanger civilian lives and property. The Agency appreciates that the
Government of Lebanon is allowing Palestine refugees from Syria to seek
safety in Lebanon, and reiterates that refugees fleeing conflict must be
accorded the safety and protection to which they are entitled under
international law.

- 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.

UNRWA has condemned attacks on its staff and Palestine refugees in Syria and
urges an end to all hostilities in the country. Read all UNRWA statements on
Syria here.

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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