UNRWA’s Commissioner-General deplores the killing of 18, including five Palestine refugee children, in southern Syria

19 February 2014
UNRWA’s Commissioner-General deplores the killing of 18, including five Palestine refugee children, in southern Syria

I am shocked and outraged to have to report that at least 18 people were killed yesterday, including five Palestine refugee school children and an UNRWA staff member, when an explosive struck near UNRWA's Zeitoun school in Muzeirib, 11 km north-west of Dera'a in southern Syria, between 11:00 and 12:00.  At least 20 others were injured, including two staff members and eight school children, two of whom have lost limbs. 

This comes just eight days after UNRWA condemned an explosion that injured 40 school children at UNRWA's Turaan School in the same town.

Five ninth graders, who has just left their UNRWA school, were killed: 
Mohammad Ghaleb Al-Dali
Ahmad Hasan Al-Dali
Yazan Bashar Hasan
Hayel Mohammad Ayed
Zakaraya Saleh Saleh

A staff nurse, Houriyeh Ahmad al-Seid, age 50, who was working in the nearby UNRWA clinic at the time, was also killed. Our hearts go out to all the parents and families at this devastating time.

I must express my revulsion at this wanton disregard for civilian life and international law.   All parties to the conflict are obliged to ensure that civilians and UN installations are protected.   Yesterday’s tragedy demonstrates beyond doubt that the conflict in Syria can only be stopped through dialogue and political negotiations.  Militarization must cease.   I urge the parties and the international community to act together now because the children and people of Syria depend on all of us. 

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, 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 more than US$ 106  million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications & Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724