UNRWA gravely concerned about heavy gun fire into the refugee camp in the Syrian port city of Latakia

15 August 2011

Statement by UNRWA Spokesman, Chris Gunness

14 August 2011

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, is gravely concerned about reports of heavy gunfire from Syrian security forces into the Palestinian refugee camp situated in the El Ramel district and surrounding areas of Latakia, including heavy fire from gunboats. Reports from various sources indicate deaths and casualties among the Palestinian refugee population, although poor communications make it impossible to confirm the exact number of dead and injured.

UNRWA condemns the use of force against civilians. We call on the Syrian authorities to order their security forces to exercise utmost restraint in accordance with international law and ensure that all civilians including Palestinian refugees are unharmed. We demand expeditious and unhindered access for humanitarian workers to tend to the injured and dying. In addition we demand unhindered access for UNRWA so that the Agency can resume its full services in the camp which have been severely affected by the unrest.

Ends

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
c.gunness@unrwa.org

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 US$ 70.5 million.

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