UNRWA Commissioner-General and Director of Operations in the West Bank Visit Sheikh Jarrah Refugee Families under threat of second displacement

02 June 2021
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini speaks with press during his visit to Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem. © 2021 UNRWA Photo

Today, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini and Director of West Bank Operations Gwyn Lewis, visited the eight Palestine refugee families at the center of the dispossession campaign by Israeli settler organizations in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The refugee families threatened with imminent eviction, their second displacement in living memory, are part of a community of 28 families who have called the neighourhood home since 1954, following their forced displacement from and dispossession of their homes and lands in 1948.  

The families reiterated the harassment they face from settler families in the presence of Israeli Security Forces. Further, entry to the neighbourhood has been blockaded by concrete barriers, restricting movement and prohibiting entry to anyone without registered residence within neighbourhood boundaries.

“The families I met in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem today live in the constant fear of being forcibly displaced and losing their homes,” said the UNRWA Commissioner-General. “They are also traumatized by the increased violence by settlers in the presence of the Israeli Security Forces. To prevent further escalations of tensions in West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, forced displacement and administrative demolitions, contrary to international law, should end.”  

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 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Thousands of Palestine refugees who lost both their homes and livelihood because of the 1948 conflict have remained displaced and in need of significant support for over seventy years. UNRWA helps them 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:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)258 90724
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+962 (0)79 090 0140