UNRWA strongly deplores the killing of nine Palestine refugees and three Syrians in southern Syria

17 July 2014

East Jerusalem

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) strongly condemns the parties responsible for two explosions in Dera’a Palestine Refugee Camp on 15 July, which resulted in the deaths of nine Palestine refugees and three Syrians. Of the Palestine refugees, six women and three men were killed. UNRWA is deeply saddened by the deaths of both Palestine refugees and Syrians, and offers its condolences to the grieving families.

Dera’a Palestine Refugee Camp is located on the southern periphery of Dera’a City in southern Syria. Though the majority of camp residents have left to seek safety elsewhere, in the months prior to this incident, a few Palestine refugee families were trickling back to their homes. The explosions that caused the twelve fatalities also destroyed the homes of four families.

The recurrence of deadly violence against Palestinian and Syrian civilians must end.  In the strongest possible terms, UNRWA reiterates its demand that all parties to the Syria conflict comply with their obligations under international law and desist from conducting armed engagements in civilian areas. All parties are responsible for ensuring respect for and compliance with norms that protect Palestinian and Syrian civilians from the effects of armed conflict. UNRWA repeats its appeal to the parties to seek a resolution of the Syria conflict through dialogue and political negotiations.

As the armed conflict continues to rage in and around Dera’a, this is only the latest of a sequence of grave incidents in which Palestinian civilians have been killed there.  On 22 May, 6 Palestine refugees died and 30 injured in Dera’a City when the tent in which they were attending a public event was struck by a mortar explosion.  In February, five Palestine refugee school children and an UNRWA staff member were killed by explosions in Muzeirib, 13km north-west of Dera’a.

Background Information

UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, and financial support has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, deepening poverty and conflict. As a result, the UNRWA General Fund, which supports core essential services and most staffing costs, operates with a large deficit. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large deficits, are funded through separate funding portals. 

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

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