Statement from the UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini on the latest events in Jenin Refugee Camp

06 July 2023


The Israeli military operation of 4-5 July in Jenin was the most intense in over two decades. For many of the camp’s residents it brought back horrific memories from 2002 when the camp witnessed one of the most severe rounds of violence during the second intifada. Families told my UNRWA colleagues that the situation made them feel helpless and frightened for their and their children’s lives. 

The camp sustained significant damage - the streets are full of rubble; electricity and water are cut in most parts of the camp and many houses have been destroyed.  Today, we had to set up a temporary health point because a major part of the UNRWA health center was destroyed during the operation. The Jenin municipality, local authorities have started a massive clean-up operation to remove the rubble and clear the roads. However, I am extremely concerned that possible unexploded ordinances remain which place the lives of residents and humanitarian aid groups at risk.  

Right now, our priority is to restore basic services in the camp and to support those whose homes were damaged with emergency cash assistance.  It is essential that we repair our own buildings and re-open four UNRWA schools which provide education for 1,700 children and a health centre where residents get primary care. To make sure this happens, UNRWA is rapidly deploying more teams and assistance to support residents and the local authorities. 

UNRWA needs the support of its partners and donors to help rebuild and rehabilitate its structures and the homes of Palestine Refugees. One donor, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has already pledged funding, and I am calling on others to step in, especially as the Agency faces what will be an unsurmountable financial challenge now, after this latest dramatic development in Jenin. 

Too many lives have already been lost in 2023 in the West Bank, among them Palestine Refugees, including children. It is time for people in the West Bank to have peace after decades of pain, destruction, violence, forced displacement and loss of life.  It is time to reach a peaceful political solution that will put an end to one of the longest conflicts in recent history and that will also address the plight of Palestine Refugees.   




Notes to Editors  

  • Established in 1954, the Jenin refugee camp is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. It is home to nearly 24,000 Palestine Refugees who live in half a square kilometer; 

  • The camp has one of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the West Bank;  

  • Read more about Jenin Camp; 

  • To learn about the work of UNRWA in Jenin Camp, read our situation reports here 

Background Information: 

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.

UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.


For more information, please contact:

Juliette Touma
UNRWA Director of Communications
+962-79-867-4628 (on whatsapp)
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson/ Director of External Relations & Communications
+962 (0)79 090 0140