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UNRWA and OCHA condemn the forced displacement of 67 Palestine refugees in the occupied West Bank
UNRWA – OCHA Joint Press Release
22 April 2012
East Jerusalem, West Bank
During the week, 67 Palestine refugees, more than half of them children, were forcibly displaced as a result of the eviction or demolition of their homes and other civilian structures. In one incident on 18 April, the Israeli authorities demolished the homes of seven refugee families in the Palestinian community of Al Khalayleh, displacing them for the third time in six months. The following day, the Israeli authorities demolished and confiscated emergency tents provided by humanitarian actors in response to the demolitions.
The Director of UNRWA’s West Bank Office, Felipe Sanchez, condemned the demolitions: "The forced eviction of Palestine refugees and the demolition of Palestinian homes and other civilian structures in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is contrary to international law. We urge the Israeli authorities to find an immediate solution to enable the Palestinian population of the occupied West Bank, to lead a normal life, in full realisation of their rights", he added.
In another incident on 18 April, two Palestinian families were forcibly evicted from their homes in the East Jerusalem suburb of Beit Hanina. The homes, located in a Palestinian neighborhood, were subsequently handed over to Israeli settlers, who reportedly intend to build a new settlement in the area. The eviction was condemned on 18 April by the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Maxwell Gaylard, stating that this may run counter to international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the oPt (OCHA), Ramesh Rajasingham said, "more than 1500 Palestinians have lost their homes as a result of demolitions and evictions since the beginning of 2011. Forced evictions and demolitions cause extensive human suffering, increase humanitarian needs and vulnerability."
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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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