UNRWA and OCHA condemn the forced displacement of 67 Palestine refugees in the occupied West Bank

22 April 2012

UNRWA – OCHA Joint Press Release

22 April 2012
East Jerusalem, West Bank

During the week, 67 Palestine refugees, more than half of them children, were forcibly displaced as a result of the eviction or demolition of their homes and other civilian structures. In one incident on 18 April, the Israeli authorities demolished the homes of seven refugee families in the Palestinian community of Al Khalayleh, displacing them for the third time in six months. The following day, the Israeli authorities demolished and confiscated emergency tents provided by humanitarian actors in response to the demolitions.

Photos: Forced demolitions

The Director of UNRWA’s West Bank Office, Felipe Sanchez, condemned the demolitions: "The forced eviction of Palestine refugees and the demolition of Palestinian homes and other civilian structures in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is contrary to international law. We urge the Israeli authorities to find an immediate solution to enable the Palestinian population of the occupied West Bank, to lead a normal life, in full realisation of their rights", he added.

In another incident on 18 April, two Palestinian families were forcibly evicted from their homes in the East Jerusalem suburb of Beit Hanina. The homes, located in a Palestinian neighborhood, were subsequently handed over to Israeli settlers, who reportedly intend to build a new settlement in the area. The eviction was condemned on 18 April by the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Maxwell Gaylard, stating that this may run counter to international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the oPt (OCHA), Ramesh Rajasingham said, "more than 1500 Palestinians have lost their homes as a result of demolitions and evictions since the beginning of 2011. Forced evictions and demolitions cause extensive human suffering, increase humanitarian needs and vulnerability."

- Ends -

For further information please contact:

Ilona Kassissieh
West Bank Public Information Office
+972 542168717
Email: i.kassissieh@unrwa.org

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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:

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