Archive for the 'UNRWA' Category

UNRWA condemns the killing of a refugee child during military raid in the occupied Palestinian territory

PRESS STATEMENT
Chris Gunness, UNRWA Spokesperson

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Jerusalem, 25 July 2018: During a large scale incursion by the Israeli security forces (ISF) into Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem on 23 July, a fourteen year old Palestine refugee student at UNRWA’s Basic Boys School in the camp was shot and killed, reportedly with live ammunition. Preliminary reports suggest he was not armed. UNRWA condemns the killing of children and calls for an independent and transparent investigation to establish the cause and circumstances of this death.

Across all 19 refugee camps in the West Bank since the beginning of 2017 until now, 10 refugees have been killed and 129 (27 minors) injured by live ammunition. All of these fatalities occurred in the context of ISF operations in and around the camps. In Deheisheh alone since the beginning of 2017, three Palestine refugees have been killed and 55 (including 13 children) injured by live ammunition. Read more »

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl visited Yarmouk today, in first camp access in years for a senior UN official

PRESS RELEASE
UNRWA

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UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl visited Yarmouk today, the first senior UN official in years to access the camp, which remains an enduring symbol of the Palestine Refugee diaspora, and of the extreme human costs of the devastating conflict in the country. Mr. Krähenbühl said “The scale of the destruction in Yarmouk compares to very little else that I have seen in many years of humanitarian work in conflict zones”.

Once a proud neighborhood home to some 160’000 Palestine refugees, the camp now lies in utter ruin. Wherever one looks, the horror experienced by inhabitants of Yarmouk is all too evident. Yet again, Palestine refugees were exposed to the trauma of displacement, loss of relatives, homes and livelihoods. “In every visit to Syria over the past years – and again during this visit – Palestine refugees have spoken of the pride of what Yarmouk represents in the history of the community”, the Commissioner-General underlined, adding “Today, they express deep anxieties about what the immediate and longer-term future holds and about the prospect of return and reconstruction”.

Carrying out a three-day mission to Syria from 1 to 3 July 2018, the Commissioner-General also met with Palestine Refugees, UNRWA students and staff, as well as with senior government officials and diplomats. Read more »

UNRWA denies strike in Gaza today

PRESS RELEASE
UNRWA

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Contrary to some reports, there was no strike in Gaza today and UNRWA installations across Gaza were not closed because of industrial action.

There was a memorable and peaceful solidarity walk by thousands of UNRWA employees from our office in Gaza City to the UNSCO office to hand over a letter to the President of the General Assembly, expressing concern about funding reductions and their potential impact.

While people stayed away from work for a few hours, UNRWA had a prior deal with the Staff Union that essential services like food distribution would not be disrupted.

Statement of the UNRWA Commissioner-General

PRESS STATEMENT
UNRWA

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Not for the first time in its proud history, UNRWA faces a formidable challenge in upholding its mandate – an expression of the will of the international community – and preserving key services like education and health care for Palestine Refugees.

Today, the US government has announced a contribution of $60 M, in support of our efforts to keep our schools open, health clinics running, and emergency food and cash distribution systems functioning for some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees. While important, this funding is dramatically below past levels. The total US contribution in 2017 was above $350 M. Read more »

UNRWA Visit to Evicted Family in East Jerusalem

PRESS RELEASE
UNRWA

The Shamasneh family outside their home

The Shamasneh family outside their home

Jerusalem, 6th September 2017: The Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Scott Anderson, has paid a visit to the Shamasneh family, a Palestine refugee family residing in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, who had just been evicted from their home following an eight-year legal battle.

Expressing UNRWA’s support Anderson said “I am appalled at the resumption of forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and particularly worried about the humanitarian impact on this refugee family. I have expressed UNRWA’s solidarity with them and our commitment to address their immediate needs. We will also continue to advocate for the rights of Palestine refugees to be protected, and obligations under international law respected. The UNRWA Crisis Intervention Unit has been on-site providing immediate assistance to the family at this difficult time. Palestine refugees, who have already endured multiple episodes of displacement, should not be subjected to forced evictions”. Read more »

Nearly 200,000 Gaza Children Take Part in UNRWA ‘Summer Fun Weeks’

PRESS RELEASE
UNRWA

UNRWA students during their participation in the opening ceremony performances of the Summer Fun Weeks held in Al-Zaitoun Elementary Girls School, Gaza city. © UNRWA Gaza 2017. Photo by Fadi Thabet

UNRWA students during their participation in the opening ceremony performances of the Summer Fun Weeks held in Al-Zaitoun Elementary Girls School, Gaza city © UNRWA Gaza 2017. Photo by Fadi Thabet

Gaza, 09 July: One hundred and eighty-six thousand children have registered to participate in a month-long programme of summer activities organized by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The ‘Summer Fun Weeks’ (SFWs) will begin on 08 July and culminate in a series of closing ceremonies that end on 5 August.

According to the Director of the Summer Fun Weeks, Yousef Moussa, the event is well-balanced in terms of the gender of the participants: “50.3 per cent of participants will be girls and 49.7 will be boys. There will be football for the boys and basketball for the girls. We have also included mural painting and handicrafts, as well as bouncy castles and trampolines for the younger children.” Read more »

UNRWA Condemns Neutrality Violation in Gaza in the Strongest Possible Terms

Statement by Christopher Gunness, UNRWA Spokesperson

On 1 June UNRWA discovered part of a tunnel that passes under two adjacent Agency schools in Maghazi camp in the Gaza Strip, namely the Maghazi Elementary Boys A&B School and the Maghazi Preparatory Boys School. The schools are located on the same premises. The discovery was made during the summer vacation, at a time when the schools are empty, and in the course of work related to the construction of an extension of one of the buildings.

Following a thorough inspection of the site, UNRWA can confirm that the tunnel has no entry or exit points on the premises nor is it connected to the schools or other buildings in any way. Read more »

Commissioner-General of UNRWA meets Palestinian Prime Minister in Ramallah

PRESS RELEASE
UNRWA

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Jerusalem, 17 April, 2017

The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Pierre Krähenbühl, met today in Ramallah with the Prime Minister of the State of Palestine, H.E. Dr. Rami Hamdallah.

The meeting addressed the rights and critical needs of Palestine Refugees in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The Commissioner-General updated the Prime Minister on his recent visit to Aleppo, Syria and the situation of Palestine Refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. Read more »

United Nations Secretary General Urges Member States to Make UNRWA funds “Sustainable”

PRESS RELEASE
UNRWA

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New York 6 April 2017

In a landmark report presented today, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterres, urges all member states actively to support and make the funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) “sustainable, predictable and sufficient”.

Mr Guterres underscores that member states “widely value the indispensable role” UNRWA plays in the provision of essential services to the Palestine Refugees and the “impact it has had in the context of the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict”. The Secretary-General further notes the deep recognition among UN members of UNRWA’s contribution to preserving the rights and dignity of Palestine Refugees. His report says “the agency was described by member states as “unique” and “special”, and its contribution to political stability in a region experiencing significant volatility was highlighted by a broad cross section of member states.” UNRWA’s role in the “mitigation of extremism, its stabilizing influence and its contribution to peace and security” is also highlighted. Read more »

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.”

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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 »

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