UNRWA Mourns the Death of Staff Member in Syria

26 November 2013
Statement by Michael Kingsley-Nyinah, Director of UNRWA Syria Field Office

Damascus 

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) expresses its deep sorrow at the death, on 24 November, of Mohammad Suheil Yousef Awwad, the ninth staff member to be killed as a result of the Syria conflict. Mr. Awwad died when a mortar shell struck his vehicle in Ghouta, a suburb south-east of Damascus City. He and three other passengers in the vehicle were killed instantly. 

With the tragic death of yet another dear colleague, we are reminded of the extraordinary threats to humanitarian workers and the senseless waste of human life in Syria. No political or military goal can excuse the death of Mohammad Awwad or the killing of many thousands of Palestinians and Syrians in the Syria conflict. The thoughts and condolences of UNRWA staff are with Mr. Awwad’s family in this time of profound grief. 

Born in 1973, Mr. Awwad had served with UNRWA since July 2013 as a Maintenance Technician at the Damascus Training Centre. He is survived by his widow, 18-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son.  

UNRWA deplores the mounting toll of civilian deaths and casualties in Syria, including among Palestinians and humanitarian workers. In line with the UN Security Council Presidential Statement of 2 October 2013, the Agency reiterates its fervent appeal to all parties to comply with their obligations under international law, particularly in relation to the protection of civilians. The Agency urges all parties to abide by the prohibition against indiscriminate attacks and attacks against civilians and civilian objects. Safe access for humanitarian workers, including to conflict-affected areas, must be granted.

Once again, UNRWA calls on all concerned actors to redouble their efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the armed conflict in Syria.

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.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0724

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