UNRWA condemns armed violence in Ein El-Hilweh which has again prevented children from attending school and vital health services from operating

22 December 2016

Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson Christopher Gunness

UNRWA strongly condemns the armed violence that took  place in the Ein El Hilweh Palestine Refugee camp in Lebanon today and yesterday and calls for restraint.

Due to armed violence and increased risks to civilian lives, UNRWA has suspended all its operations in the camp and will continue to do so until further notice.

Violent incidents in Ein el-Hilweh continue to shock and frighten camp residents. They prevent children going to school and patients going to clinics; and they threaten the safety and security of civilians and their ability to access a range of services.

The education and wellbeing of more than 6000 children attending nine UNRWA schools in the camp have been impacted. Two health centres, serving the health needs of the Palestine refugee population in the Camp, have been forced to close temporarily.

This is the fourth time in the past month that UNRWA has been forced to close its services due to security incidents. Closures have occurred on 5, 7, 21 and 22 December.

We again call on all those involved to respect the rule of law, the sanctity of human life and to ensure the protection of Palestine refugees, particularly of children.

UNRWA also continues to urge all armed actors to respect the inviolability and neutrality of UNRWA premises in accordance with international law and to take all measures necessary to ensure the safety of UNRWA staff, students, Palestine refugees and installations.

UNRWA will continue to monitor developments and we will continue our dialogue with all relevant actors to advocate for the safety and dignity of Palestine refugees living in Ein el-Hilweh and to bring an end to the violence.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, 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 and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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