Archive for the 'UNRWA' Category

UNRWA deplores escalating violence in southern Syria

UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness
PRESS STATEMENT

UNRWA is alarmed by the escalation of violence in Dera’a Governorate, south of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Fighting among parties to the conflict in the area is causing the displacement of Palestine refugees, impeding humanitarian access to critical aid and has resulted in the deaths of Palestine refugees in recent weeks.

Over the last three days, UNRWA has been providing assistance to over 200 families who have escaped violence in the village of Jilin located 25 km west of Dera’a City. UNRWA estimates that over 90 percent of the Palestine refugee families from Jilin have fled as a result of the escalation of armed violence reported to have started on February 20. The two UNRWA schools in the village are now closed. Read more »

UNRWA strongly condemns violations of inviolability, neutrality of United Nations installations in Ein El-Hilweh

PRESS STATEMENT
Chris Gunness, UNRWA Spokesperson

Ein al-Hilweh (Photo: Wattan TV)

Ein al-Hilweh (Photo: Wattan TV)

March 3 2017
Jerusalem

Today, 3 March 2017, an UNRWA security mission conducted a preliminary inspection to ascertain the extent of the damage to UNRWA’s installations in Ein El-Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon, following several days of clashes in the camp.

The inspection revealed that five UNRWA installations – three schools, one Relief and Social Services Office and the Camp Services Office have been entered and used by armed actors, contrary to the inviolability of United Nations premises.

The Agency’s Marj Ben Ammer school and one UNRWA Relief and Social Services Office have sustained significant material damage. The cost of the damage to UNRWA installations is yet to be finally determined. Once the situation permits, the Agency will conduct a full assessment of the damages and will consider seeking compensation from relevant actors, as appropriate.

UNRWA strongly condemns these violations of the inviolability and neutrality of United Nations installations. Read more »

UNRWA: Gaza Neutrality Issue – UPDATE

UPDATE 26/02/2017 22:31

On the record quote (not statement) by UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness:

“We have seen the latest communication from the Israeli authorities. Before that communication, and in light of our ongoing independent internal investigation, we had been presented with substantial information from a number of sources which led us to take the decision this afternoon to suspend Suhail al Hindi, pending the outcome of our investigation.

As with all UN Agencies, we will ensure that a staff member’s due process rights are followed.”

chrisgunness2-400-x-229

Press Statement
UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness

23 February 2017

Allegations have been circulating in conventional and social media networks about an UNRWA staff member being elected to political office in Gaza.

As soon as the allegations came to UNRWA’s attention, the Agency undertook a preliminary investigation, including discussing the allegations with the staff member. Based on the due diligence carried out by the Agency to date, UNRWA has neither uncovered nor received evidence to contradict the staff member’s denial that he was elected to political office. Read more »

UNRWA Commissioner-General to Tell Helsinki Conference: “Don’t Forget Over Half a Million Palestinians from Syria”

Press Statement
UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness

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Helsinki, 24 January 2017: The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Pierre Krähenbühl, will tell an international conference later today in Helsinki that “the world should not forget some 560,000 Palestine refugees from whose lives have been impacted by the deepening conflict in Syria”. The conference has been called to launch the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) in response to the Syria crisis.

Mr Krähenbühl, who will be speaking on a high level panel on education in emergencies and the protection of rights, will update delegates and explain that “today 430,000 Palestine refugees – 95 per cent of those Palestine refugees remaining in Syria – are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. Overall, 280,000 are internally displaced and around 43,000 are trapped in hard-to-reach or besieged areas. In addition to this, there are more than 30,000 Palestine refugees from Syria who have fled to Lebanon and nearly 17,000 who have fled to Jordan, where they face a marginalised and precarious existence.” Read more »

UNRWA condemns outbreak of armed violence in Ein El-Hilweh which injured civilians, UNRWA staff member

Press Statement
Christopher Gunness, UNRWA Spokesperson

Ain Al HIlweh camp, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Ain Al HIlweh camp, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Jerusalem, 17 January 2016: UNRWA strongly condemns the armed violence that took place in the Ein El Hilweh Palestine Refugee camp in Lebanon, on the evening of 15 January 2016.

Recurrent armed violence continues to impact the civilian population in the Camp, including children. Last night’s shooting caused injuries to six people, including one child as well as shocking and frightening camp inhabitants.

UNRWA remains deeply concerned about the recurrent violence in Ein El Hilweh and its impact on the civilian population and our staff. Sadly we can confirm that on 15th January, near his home in Ein el Hilweh, an UNRWA staff member was severely injured. While there was reportedly shooting in the area when our staff member was wounded, current information indicates that he was not deliberately targeted. Read more »

UNRWA condemns armed violence in Ein El Hilweh which forced children to flee amid live firing

Press Statement
Christopher Gunness, UNRWA Spokesperson

Ain Al HIlweh camp, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Ain Al HIlweh camp, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Jerusalem 7 December 2016: UNRWA strongly condemns the armed violence that took place in the Ein El Hilweh Palestine Refugee camp in Lebanon, on 5 December 2016.

Armed violence, including the use of firearms, shocked and frightened Palestine refugees in the Bostan Al Qudes area in the proximity of four UNRWA schools – Faloujah, Hitten, Marj Ben Amer and Qibya schools – putting at considerable risk the lives of students receiving education from UNRWA. One armed person entered UNRWA schools without authorization, contrary to the inviolability and neutrality of UN premises and instructed children to leave the schools. The school buildings were clearly marked with a UN flag. Read more »

UNRWA Condemns Killing of Four Palestine Refugees, calls for Full Humanitarian Access to Khan Eshieh Refugee Camp in Syria

Press Statement
UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness

Khan Eshieh Camp, June 2016 (UN File Photo)

Khan Eshieh Camp, June 2016 (UN File Photo)

Four Palestine refugees were killed on the night of 18 October as they attempted to leave the Khan Eshieh Palestine refugee camp, south of the Syrian capital, Damascus, to which access has been highly restricted. Nofeh Mohammed Jarad, who was in her 60’s, her daughter Ibaa Saeed al-Nader, 22, their driver and a one-year old baby were all killed when their vehicle was shelled around 10 p.m. The mother of the baby, a Syrian citizen, also died in the incident.

UNRWA condemns this attack and the killing and wounding of all civilians including Palestine refugees. It calls on those responsible to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and demands that the parties to the conflict do their utmost to protect civilian life in accordance with international law. Read more »

UNRWA responds to closure of Israeli investigation into 2014 shelling near UNRWA school in Rafah

Chris Gunness, UNRWA Spokesperson
Press Statement

Photo: Palestinian Refugee Network

Photo: Palestinian Refugee Network

UNRWA has not been given an opportunity to review the evidence but we have seen the explanation on the Israeli Military Advocate General’s website. In the circumstance it is therefore impossible for us to make specific comments about the way the case has been conducted.

According to the UN Secretary General’s Board of Inquiry, the incident took place at an UNRWA school which had been designated as an emergency shelter on 18 July. Between 2,700 to 2,900 people were sheltering there. The Israeli Army launched a precision-guided missile striking the road outside the school, which had opened its gates. 15 persons in the vicinity were killed, including a guard hired by UNRWA. As many as 30 people were injured. The Secretary General’s Board of Inquiry found that the missile was targeting people passing on a motorcycle.

We notified the Israeli Army on 33 separate occasions that this school in Rafah was being used to accommodate the displaced, the last time only an hour before the attack.

This raises serious questions about the conduct of military operations in relation to obligations under international humanitarian law and respect for the inviolability and sanctity of United Nations premises under international law.

UNRWA has consistently called for accountability. Investigations into such incidents are crucial and UNRWA has provided evidence in the process. We remain determined to ensure that incidents are thoroughly investigated.

UNRWA itself is not a tribunal or a judge. We have called for accountability in this case and in others that took place during the 2014 war. Any indication that responsibility was being evaded would be a matter of grave concern.

We note that no criminal responsibility seems to be accepted for any concluded cases concerning UNRWA premises. The families affected have had no effective redress and, from their perspective, this would certainly be seen as a further denial of their rights.

Two years after the end of the 2014 war, Israeli criminal investigations are still ongoing into the strikes on UNRWA emergency shelters in Beit Hanoun (24 July) and in Jabalia (30 July) that resulted together in some 29 civilian deaths and dozens of injuries. UNRWA has cooperated with the Israeli investigations. Despite follow up, however, UNRWA has received no news to date about progress on these investigations.

UNRWA GRAVELY CONCERNED BY DEATH OF YOUNG REFUGEE IN ISRAEL MILITARY OPERATION

Chris Gunness, UNRWA Spokesperson
Press Statement

Photo: The Muslim News

Photo: The Muslim News

UNRWA is gravely concerned about the death of a young Palestine refugee and the high number of civilian injuries from live ammunition which occurred on 16 August, during a large Israeli military incursion, into Fawwar refugee camp near the city of Hebron. Residents reported that large numbers of Israeli security forces entered the camp starting in the early hours and over the course of the day, conducting extensive search operations inside more than 200 refugee households. Clashes between Palestinian youth and the Israeli security forces ensued. Israeli forces responded by using a range of munitions, including lethal, live ammunition, plastic-coated metal bullets (PCMBs), and large amounts of tear gas.

As a result, a reportedly unarmed 19-year old Palestine refugee from Fawwar camp was killed after being shot in the chest by live ammunition rounds reportedly fired by an Israeli sniper stationed approximately 100 meters away. Read more »

UNRWA statement on Hebron closures

UNRWA
Press Statement

25 JULY 2016

UNRWA is deeply concerned about the humanitarian impact of the closure applied by the Israeli authorities in the Hebron district, affecting in particular Fawwar refugee camp.

Fawwar refugee camp. © 2015 UNRWA Photo by Dominiek Benoot

Fawwar refugee camp. © 2015 UNRWA Photo by Dominiek Benoot

The closure was implemented following a series of violent incidents that took place before the end of Ramadan in which two Israelis were killed: a stabbing attack in Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of Hebron killing a 13-year old Israeli girl in her home (30 June), a drive-by shooting attack on Road 60, south of Hebron (1 July), and two separate stabbing attacks in Hebron (30 June and 1 July). The United Nations, including the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has repeatedly condemned in the strongest terms, all such attacks. The UN condemns all violence impacting Israeli and Palestinian civilians.

Since the beginning of the closure, the main entrance of Fawwar camp has been closed for 25 consecutive days affecting approximately 9,500 refugees in Fawwar camp. These closures create serious challenges for UNRWA’s humanitarian access, including the delivery of medical supplies, the removal of refuse from the camps, and the daily movement of Agency staff working inside the camp. Read more »

18th URNWA Staff Member Killed in Syria

UNRWA
Press Release

UNRWA deplores the loss of life in Syria as it commemorates the death of a staff member in Aleppo, on July 17.

Neirab Camp, 13 km SE of Aleppo (unrwa.org)

Neirab Camp, 13 km SE of Aleppo (unrwa.org)

In the early evening of 17 July, Yaser Mahmoud Shuaeeb, a driver for UNRWA in Aleppo, was struck by shrapnel fragments in his back as he was getting off a bus on Nile Street on his way home. The forty five year old subsequently succumbed to his wounds, bringing the death toll of UNRWA staff to 18. UNRWA sends its heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family.

Yaser joined UNRWA as a driver on 1 February 2015 and was known for his outstanding service and competence. He was respected by his colleagues. Like 62 per cent of the Palestine refugees in Syria, Yaser was internally displaced. He was living temporarily in a rented apartment on Nile Street. He is survived by his wife and six children. Read more »

UNRWA condemns latest Israeli demolitions in the West Bank, urges respect for international law

Chris Gunness, URNWA spokesperson
Press Release

Photo: unrwa.org

Photo: unrwa.org

“The Israeli authorities have carried out a large scale demolition in the Bedouin refugee community at Anata in the occupied West Bank. Seven residential structures, four animal shelters and four toilet units, were destroyed of which three were funded by an international NGO. As a result seven UNRWA registered refugee families with a total forty-three individuals, including twenty-five children, were displaced. Among them were a 48 year old male head of household suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a 48 year old male head of household with a physical disability rendering him unable to walk. Also among the displaced was an 85 year old woman as well as a woman 7 months into her pregnancy.

It is heartbreaking to see such shocking disregard for international law and the impact it is having on an entire UN protected community. While condemning this disregard for international law, we would respectfully remind Israel, the occupying power, that under the Fourth Geneva Convention, it has an obligation to respect family rights including the dwellings of the protected population – not destroy them.”

UNRWA teams have visited the families and documented the cases and is providing assistance to the impacted refugee families to re-build their lives.”

UNICEF-UNRWA Condemn Bombing of Child Friendly Space in Khan Eishieh Camp in Syria

UNICEF-UNRWA
PRESS RELEASE

photo_for_landing_page_syria_appeal (400 x 200)

Amman/Damascus, 5 July 2016

The latest attack on Khan Eishieh Refugee Camp, home to Palestinian refugees and internally displaced Syrians, is the latest example in the Syria conflict of the inhumane disregard for life, particularly that of children and infrastructure on which they depend.

In one of the latest such attacks, a barrage of bombs hit the Khan Eishieh Camp at night on 3 July reportedly killing civilians and destroying homes as well as a Child Friendly Space. Khan Eshieh camp, home to about 9,000 Palestine refugees is located in a volatile area in the rural area south of Damascus, where spikes in violence have caused the deaths of at least nine Palestine refugees in recent weeks.

The destroyed Child Friendly Space was a point of respite for over 1,000 children who were coming to it daily to engage in education, psychosocial and recreational activities. This was the only Child Friendly Space in the camp where children could go to momentarily overcome the horrors of the violence and the conflict that have defined their lives. Despite the risks, local partners and volunteers continue to serve children in the best way they can. Read more »

UNRWA condemns today’s punitive demolitions in the occupied West Bank

UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness
Press Statement

PD6

The Israeli authorities have carried out punitive demolitions in Qalandia Refugee Camp in the occupied West Bank in the middle of last night, demolishing two homes. The Israeli Army operation began around midnight last night, beginning with the demolition of the home of UNRWA sanitation labourer, Yassin Yusuf Assaf and five members of his family. Assaf’s son Issa was killed while carrying out a stabbing attack that resulted in the death of two Israelis outside Jaffa Gate in December 2015.

The walls of the home were demolished from the inside. There are also 16 other adjoining apartments belonging to other relatives, but we cannot confirm if they have been damaged.

The second demolition was of the home of Mohammad Saleh Hussein Hammad Abu-Habsa. While we cannot confirm if there was any damage to surrounding property, the demolition order was against the room that had been inhabited by another of the perpetrators of the stabbing attack in December last year, Anan Hammad Abu-Habsa. The second demolition was completed around 0400 hours this morning. Read more »

UNRWA: Hundreds displaced, rendered homeless by punitive Israeli demolitions

Chris Gunness, Spokesman, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA
Press Statement

Residents inspect the damage in a house demolished by Israeli troops at Qalandia refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied occupied West Bank, November 16, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Residents inspect the damage in a house demolished by Israeli troops at Qalandia refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied occupied West Bank, November 16, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

UNRWA is gravely concerned about the recent decision of the Israeli High Court of Justice to reject the appeals filed by Palestine refugee families against two punitive demolitions in Kalandia refugee camp. The two families were given five days as of 14 June to evacuate the apartments. Today, the family is in a state of perpetual apprehension as they wait for implementation of the punitive demolition which could occur at any undefined time. Read more »

Half of UNRWA Schools Affected By Conflict in the Last Five Years

PRESS RELEASE
UNRWA

UNRWA Showcases its Innovative “Education in Emergency” Response

UNRWA school (400 x 169)

Istanbul, 22 May 2016: Of the many tragedies occurring in the Middle-East, the story of embattled schools may be one of the least well known. Front-lines shift and run through school-grounds, artillery rounds hit installations, incursions by armed forces or groups occur, access is prevented or rendered impossible for young boys and girls, for whom education is a critical life-line.

Nearly half of the 692 schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, across the region have been impacted, attacked or otherwise rendered inoperable by conflict or violence in the last five years, according to a new report unveiled at the World Humanitarian Summit, taking place in Istanbul. “A staggering 302 schools have been directly affected”, said UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl, in an article published this week. Read more »

Yarmouk civilians eat again

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Woman in Yarmouk May 02, 2016 (Photo: unrwa.org)

Woman in Yarmouk May 02, 2016 (Photo: unrwa.org)

But for how long, is the question. On Wednesday UNRWA managed to continue its humanitarian operations in Yalda, Damascus for the third consecutive day since intense clashes broke out on 07 April, and Yarmouk civilians were able to access Yalda for the first time in almost a month to receive much-needed assistance, and return to their homes.

Families received hygiene kits in addition to food parcels, and a small mobile medical team was able to treat 259 civilians in need of primary health care, including 61 children and 112 women. Read more »

Civilians in Yarmouk facing starvation and dehydration, UNRWA deplores inhumane deprivation

UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness
Press Statement

Palestinian refugees living in active conflict areas in Syria such as Yarmouk, Khan Eshieh and the Dera’a surroundings, face brutal hardships. Photo: UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammed

Palestinian refugees living in active conflict areas in Syria such as Yarmouk, Khan Eshieh and the Dera’a surroundings, face brutal hardships. Photo: UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammed

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is greatly alarmed and concerned by the desperate humanitarian consequences being inflicted on civilians since 6 April as a result of armed conflict between extremist armed groups inside Yarmouk, Damascus.

The fighting has been intense, and is taking place in the most densely populated areas of Yarmouk, with the use of heavy weapons, explosive devices and weapons of indiscriminate effect. The impact on civilian life has been devastating. Read more »

UNRWA Condemns Large Scale Home Demolitions in the West Bank

PRESS STATEMENT
UNRWA West Bank Director, Lance Bartholomuesz

UmAlKhayr (400 x 300)

Jerusalem 6 April 2016

UNRWA condemns today’s large scale home demolitions by the Israeli Authorities in the Bedouin refugee community of Um al Khayr in the South Hebron Hills. As a result, 31 Palestine refugees, including 16 children, were made homeless. This community has endured several rounds of demolitions and often faced harassment from the nearby illegal settlement of Karmel.

“I am appalled. Looking in the eyes of a young Bedouin boy in a red shirt standing amongst the crumpled ruins of his demolished home, how can anyone justify this? ” stated Lance Bartholomeusz, Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank.

Already this year, over 700 Palestinians have been displaced by Israeli demolitions in the West Bank. This figure is approaching the total number of displaced for all of 2015.

UNRWA is gravely concerned about demolitions in violation of international law. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention destruction of private property is prohibited. As Occupying Power, Israel is obliged to administer the occupied territory for the welfare of the protected Palestinian population.

As the UN has said repeatedly, these demolitions must stop.

UN sustains two weeks of humanitarian access to besieged, hard to reach civilians in Damascus

UNRWA
Press Release

UN concerned about 20,000 civilians in southern Syria, demands access. (Photo: unrwa.org)

UN concerned about 20,000 civilians in southern Syria, demands access. (Photo: unrwa.org)

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness reported today:

With the completion of humanitarian missions this week, UNRWA has been able to sustain two weeks of humanitarian access to besieged and hard to reach communities in the Syrian capital, Damascus. We were able to resume operations in the Damascus suburb of Yalda on February 14 for the first time in over six months, distributing 5,700 food parcels to families from the besieged Palestine refugee camp of Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham over a 5-day operation. Then From Sunday 21 to Wednesday 24 February, we distributed thermal blankets to Palestine refugees and other civilians from Yarmouk, Yalda, Babila and Beit Saham, from a distribution point in Yalda. A total of 19,160 blankets were distributed to approximately 5,700 families.

Residents had previously reported that blankets were a critical need due to recurring low temperatures during the winter season. Electricity and water have been cut in Yarmouk for the past three years. Repeated clashes and armed violence over the last years have resulted in extensive damages to civilian houses. Refugees reported that their houses do not have windows, and that they have nothing but plastic bags to replace them with, and protect their families from the cold. Read more »

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