UNRWA Condemns the killing of thirteenth staff member in Syria

26 August 2014


The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) strongly condemns the parties responsible for the killing of its thirteenth staff member in Syria on Thursday, 21 August. Mohammad Mizel, a teacher at Tiberias School, Dera’a, died when a vehicle he was travelling in was struck by gunfire as he departed Dera’a Camp. Mr. Mizel’s son was also seriously injured in the incident. The thoughts and condolences of all UNRWA staff are with his bereaved family. 

Mr. Mizel and his son were attempting to relocate their household to a safer of area of Dera’a when the incident occurred on Thursday evening. Several shots struck the pick-up truck they were driving, which was being used to transport family possessions towards the al-Qashef area of Dera’a. Mr. Mizel died at the scene, while his son suffered chest wounds for which he underwent hospital treatment in Dera'a.

Mr. Mizel served UNRWA with distinction for over 33 years. He is survived by his wife, four sons and three daughters.
In common with thousands of Palestine refugees in Syria, the story of Mr. Mizel’s family is one of recurrent trauma and tragedy. He lost one son in conflict-related violence in 2013 and another son has been missing for over a year. At the time of his death, Mr. Mizel was seeking to escape worsening violence in Dera’a Camp, which has endured over two years of armed clashes including the use of heavy weapons. 
The incident comes only six weeks after explosive munitions caused the deaths of 13 civilians, including nine Palestine refugees, in Dera’a Camp. Mr. Mizel’s tragic death illustrates the devastating impact the conflict continues to inflict on Palestine refugees and other civilians in Syria.  

UNRWA deplores this attack on a UN staff member and the serious physical and psychological harm such incidents continue to generate among Palestine refugees across Syria. In the strongest possible terms, UNRWA reiterates its demand that all parties to the conflict in Syria comply with their obligations under international law and desist from targeting or otherwise conducting armed conflict in civilian areas. UNRWA calls again on all parties to seek a resolution of the Syria conflict through dialogue and political negotiations.

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