It is with great sadness that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has learned of the conflict-related death of Nasri Khalil Hasan, a member of its teaching staff in Syria. Nasri Hassan is the sixth UNRWA staff member to be killed in the Syria conflict.
In the afternoon of Wednesday 13 March 2013, during a period of intense armed engagements, Mr. Hasan’s home on East Street in Khan Eshieh camp was reportedly struck and damaged by an artillery shell. As Mr. Hasan, his wife and four teenage children were fleeing on foot to the relative safety of a makeshift shelter, he was seriously wounded by shrapnel from a nearby explosion. The only hospital in Khan Eshieh camp was not functional, so Mr. Hasan was rushed to Kamal Hospital in Jdaydeh, some nine kilometres from Khan Eshieh camp. He died of his wounds on 14 March 2013.
Nasri Khalil Hasan was born in 1961 and since 1990, had been a mathematics teacher in UNRWA’s Beer es-Sabe‘ School in Khan Eshieh. He is survived by his wife Aysheh Al Nader and his four teenage children with ages ranging from 13 years to 19 years. At this difficult time of bereavement, the thoughts of UNRWA staff are with Aysheh Al Nader, her children and their extended family. It is deeply distressing that Mr. Hasan’s passing is one more tragic example of how the unrestrained conduct of the armed conflict in Syria continues to cause avoidable civilian deaths. UNRWA has informed the Syrian authorities of the death of its staff member.
Nasri Hassan’s death occurred in the context of severe escalations in the armed conflict in Khan Eshieh and other areas of Rif Damascus. These are exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis, with a rising number of civilian deaths and serious injuries, significant displacement, and with many residential areas, including Palestine refugee camps isolated and inaccessible. This situation also applies to Neirab and Ein El Tal camps in northern Syria.
While the majority of casualties are Syrian, it is alarming to note that Palestine refugees are also being killed in increasing numbers, with the majority of fatalities occurring in Damascus (including Yarmouk), and Rif Damascus.
UNRWA condemns the persistent failure of all sides of the Syrian conflict to protect civilians or to demonstrate regard for human life. Violations of international humanitarian law and human rights are causing large numbers of avoidable civilian deaths, injuries and displacement, including among the Palestine refugee community in Syria. Parties to the conflict, including armed opposition groups, must ensure compliance with international law and desist from taking up positions or conducting the conflict in Palestine refugee camps and other residential areas.
UNRWA deplores the immeasurable, needless human suffering that continues to affect communities across Syria. This is as a direct result of the continued attempts by all parties to resolve the conflict militarily. In the strongest terms, UNRWA reiterates its appeal to all concerned parties to end the suffering and to resolve the conflict in Syria through dialogue and international negotiations.
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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 USD 67.2 million.