UNRWA staff member killed

09 September 2012

9 September 2012
East Jerusalem

In the early morning of 9 September 2012, an UNRWA staff member in Syria, aged 28 years, was killed while on his way to catch a bus to work. The death occurred in the area of Or’uba just outside the southern border of Yarmouk residential area. Yarmouk is home to approximately 1 million Syrians and more than 150,000 Palestine refugees.

There was no shelling in the immediate vicinity at the time the staff member was killed, and family sources confirm that the staff member was struck by a single bullet to his chest. While there have been persistent allegations of sniper activity around the Yarmouk area, it could not be ascertained whether the staff member’s death was caused by a stray bullet or one fired by a sniper.

This is the second death of an UNRWA staff member in the Yarmouk area in three days. Between 6 and 8 September, ten Palestine refugees in Yarmouk have died as a result of the Syria conflict. In previous statements, UNRWA has expressed its concern about the threats posed by the conflict to the safety and well-being of Palestine refugees and Agency staff across Syria. This concern continues to grow as the Syria armed conflict deepens.

There is no sign of any easing in the intensity of the armed conflict that has been raging since 29 August in the residential areas surrounding Yarmouk. On 7 September two shells exploded in the compound of an UNRWA school (Kufr Sabt) causing minor property damage and no casualties. Threats to civilian lives and the risks of serious injury and displacement remain extremely high for all residents of Yarmouk and the surrounding areas.

UNRWA has informed the Syrian authorities of the death of its staff member and will reiterate its calls to the authorities to afford protection from the effects of armed conflict for refugees and other civilians across Syria.

UNRWA deplores the tragic loss of life and expresses the view that threats to Palestine refugees and other civilians can be avoided. All sides must refrain from conducting the conflict in civilian areas and must comply with their obligations under international law.

- Ends -

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, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

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

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724
s.mshasha@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 million.

For more information, please contact:

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