UNRWA deplores the loss of life in Syria as it commemorates the death of staff member in Aleppo

18 July 2016

In the early evening of 17 July, Yaser Mahmoud Shuaeeb, a driver for UNRWA in Aleppo, was struck by shrapnel fragments in his back as he was getting off a bus on Nile Street on his way home. The forty five year old subsequently succumbed to his wounds, bringing the death toll of UNRWA staff to 18. UNRWA sends its heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family.

Yaser joined UNRWA as a driver on 1 February 2015 and was known for his outstanding service and competence.  He was respected by his colleagues. Like 62 per cent of the Palestine refugees in Syria, Yaser was internally displaced. He was living temporarily in a rented apartment on Nile Street. He is survived by his wife and six children.

Yaser’s death comes at a time of increased violence in different parts of Syria, resulting in further loss of civilian lives. On the same day, two additional security incidents were reported by the Agency. These included a mortar landing 600 meters from the UNRWA Field Office in Damascus and a missile landing close to Neirab camp south of Aleppo. Although no injuries or damages were reported, these events illustrate the unacceptable level of danger to which civilians continue to be exposed.

UNRWA remains gravely concerned about the safety and security of Palestine refugees and Syrians alike. The Agency reiterates its call to all parties to the conflict to respect and comply with their obligations to protect and safeguard lives of civilians.

Background information on UNRWA staff and the situation in Syria 

UNRWA has 4,000 staff working in Syria. To date 18 have perished as a result of the conflict and a further 25 are missing and or detained.

The Agency relies on its staff to run its core education, health and relief services in addition to providing humanitarian support to 450,000 Palestine refugees in the areas of Deraa, Rif Damasus, Damascus, Homs, Hama, Latakia and Aleppo. Over 95 percent of the Palestine refugees are reliant on UNRWA humanitarian aid.

In the north, approximately 25,000 Palestine refugees in the Governorate of Aleppo receive UNRWA humanitarian assistance and services including in Aleppo city, Neirab camp and previously Ein el-Tal camp (Handarat). Ein el-Tal camp had been home to approximately 6,000 residents who were forcibly displaced in April 2013 when armed groups entered. Neirab camp is southeast of Aleppo, and home to an estimated 16,000 residents including the internally displaced Palestine refugees seeking refuge from the conflict. Access to Neirab camp is tenuous as the main road is subject to regular attacks. 

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 5.4 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.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Hala Mukhles
Public Information Officer - Syria Field Office
+ 963 (0) 940 88103
+ 963 (0) 940 88103