The situation in Syria

03 August 2012

The impact of the armed conflict in Syria continues to be borne predominantly by Syrians. The Agency notes with great concern that Palestine refugee communities in Damascus and its suburbs are experiencing, more than ever before, the effects of the escalating armed conflict in Syria.

This trend is illustrated by recent developments in and around Yarmouk, a densely populated suburb of Damascus where at least 150,000 Palestine refugees reside among approximately one million Syrians of all backgrounds.

Intensive armed engagements in Tadhamoun, Yalda, Hajar Al Aswad, Al Kaddam and other districts that share borders with Yarmouk have resulted in deaths and injuries of residents of Yarmouk, including Palestine refugees. Refugee homes and properties and UNRWA installations have also been damaged during the armed engagements. There is no indication that Palestine refugees, homes or properties are being targeted.

During the early evening of Thursday, 2 August, in an area on Palestine Street in Yarmouk, there were several explosions, apparently caused by artillery shells, which damaged adjoining homes. Initial, unconfirmed reports from informal sources suggest that some 20 people were killed and tens more were wounded.

UNRWA is in the process of verifying Palestine refugee casualties.

UNRWA deplores the injuries and loss of life. The Agency strongly appeals to all sides to preserve human life and to act with restraint and in accordance with international law. This will ensure that across Syria, civilians, Syrians, and Palestine refugees and their homes and properties, are spared the effects of 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 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