UNRWA Decries Deaths in Beach Refugee Camp Gaza

15 May 2021

Last night, an air strike on Beach [Shateh] refugee camp in Gaza left scores of people dead. One family, the Abu Hatabs, lost 10 members, eight of them children. Five of the children attended United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) schools, bringing the total number of UNRWA school children confirmed to have been killed since the escalation in hostilities began in Gaza to thirteen.

UNRWA condemns the killing of civilians and is shocked by the level and scale of destruction. Thousands of people are fleeing their homes to find shelter in UNRWA schools, amidst soaring cases of COVID-19. We call on the parties to exercise maximum restraint and comply with their obligations under International Law, including with regards to the use of force, at all times. Utmost efforts must be made to prevent any further loss of life. UNRWA also calls for thorough, independent and transparent investigations in relation to these incidents to ensure accountability is delivered in strict accordance with international standards. UNRWA requests financial support to enable the Agency to run essential health, sanitation and other critical services, in addition to implementing an evolving emergency response operation.

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 5.7 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.