UNRWA calls on all sides in Syria not to take up positions in refugee camps
and to respect civilian areas
16 January 2013
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, has called on all sides
in the conflict in Syria to refrain from taking up positions in or
conducting the conflict in civilian areas. A statement released from the
Agency’s headquarters in Jerusalem appealed to the parties “to ensure the
protection of Palestine refugees, other civilians and their property and to
comply with their obligations under international law”.
The UNRWA statement called for respect for “the sanctity of human life” and
it said that there was a “duty to avoid arbitrary displacement of civilians”,
stressing that “the integrity, inviolability and neutrality of United
Nations premises, vehicles and other assets must be respected and
safeguarded by all.”
UNRWA is particularly concerned about the unrelenting and escalating
conflict and its devastating impact on Palestine refugees in all areas of
Syria, including those living in Damascus, Rif Damascus, Dera’a, Aleppo,
Latakia, Hama and Homs. The Agency’s concerns are deepening with reports of
serious incidents which continue to occur, including in areas under the
control of armed opposition elements.
In mid-December 2012, the conflict saw intense armed engagements inside
Yarmouk, a suburb south of Damascus, which was home to over 150,000
Palestine refugees. This was followed by the incursion of armed opposition
elements into Yarmouk and their taking up of positions in this civilian
residential area, in turn attracting a military response more intense than
previously seen. This has brought new highs of suffering to Palestinian and
Syrian residents of Yarmouk who had already endured, since July 2012, the
trauma of protracted conflict in their neighborhood. Since mid-December
2012, the Yarmouk experience has been played out sequentially in other areas
of Rif Damascus.
In Yarmouk and elsewhere, many refugee homes have sustained serious damage.
Many homes left vacant by fleeing refugee families have been broken into and
looted. Several Palestine refugees who have returned to their homes to
retrieve their possessions have been shot and killed or seriously injured.
UNRWA reiterates its appeal to all sides to minimise the human suffering
caused by the conflict in Syria, and to resolve their differences through
dialogue and political negotiations.
- Ends -
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:
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724