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UNRWA condemns today’s large scale home demolitions in the West Bank
Statement by UNRWA West Bank Director, Lance Bartholomuesz
UNRWA condemns today’s large scale home demolitions by the Israeli Authorities in the Bedouin refugee community of Um al Khayr in the South Hebron Hills. As a result, 31 Palestine refugees, including 16 children, were made homeless. This community has endured several rounds of demolitions and often faced harassment from the nearby illegal settlement of Karmel.
“I am appalled. Looking in the eyes of a young Bedouin boy in a red shirt standing amongst the crumpled ruins of his demolished home, how can anyone justify this? ” stated Lance Bartholomeusz, Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank.
Already this year, over 700 Palestinians have been displaced by Israeli demolitions in the West Bank. This figure is approaching the total number of displaced for all of 2015.
UNRWA is gravely concerned about demolitions in violation of international law. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention destruction of private property is prohibited. As Occupying Power, Israel is obliged to administer the occupied territory for the welfare of the protected Palestinian population.
As the UN has said repeatedly, these demolitions must stop.
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 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem 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.
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