Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson Christopher Gunness

09 May 2011

9 May 2011
Jerusalem

Events in Syria have caused UNRWA to suspend or limit services in a number of areas across the country. In and around Dera’a, UNRWA operates eleven schools, two clinics, two community centres and one youth centre. The Agency has few details about the circumstances of its staff or of the refugees in Dera’a as regular communication systems have been inoperable for more than two weeks.

The Agency is concerned about the continued delivery of services to the approximately 30,000 Palestine refugees in Dera’a and surrounding areas. There is particular concern for the more than 120 patients in and around Dera’a who rely on UNRWA for life-saving insulin. UNRWA has attempted to send urgent medical supplies to Dera’a but this has not yet been possible. UNRWA has expressed its concerns to the Government of Syria, with which it has long enjoyed a co-operative relationship, and hopes the resumption of normal operations will be possible soon.
 
UNRWA serves some 30,000 Palestine refugees in Dera’a camp and surrounding villages. Throughout Syria there are some 472,000 registered Palestine refugees. UNRWA has 118 schools across Syria teaching 66,000 pupils. In addition, the Agency runs a Vocational Training Centre in Damascus, 23 primary health centres, 6 community rehabilitation centres and 15 women’s programme centres.
 
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About UNRWA
 
UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) provides assistance, protection and advocacy for some 4.8 million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a solution to their plight.
 
UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN member states.
 
For more information:
Chris Gunness
Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 240 2659
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$ 68.2 million.

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