UNRWA will continue to provide emergency assistance to displaced Palestine refugees, Commissioner-General says on a visit to Syria

27 May 2013
24 May 2013

UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi visited Syria on 21-23 May to see first-hand the impact of conflict and displacement on Palestine refugees and to provide his personal support and encouragement for UNRWA’s operations.  Mr. Grandi met with Syrian Government officials and reinforced his message to Palestinians to preserve their neutrality and to keep out of the conflict. 

In Homs, Mr. Grandi visited UNRWA installations and listened to first-hand testimonies of the acute and distressing events the displaced refugees encountered as a result of the ongoing conflict. The refugees appealed for more humanitarian assistance and requested that UNRWA exert more efforts with parties to the conflict to stop the violence. 

While condemning the killing of civilians, UNRWA has repeatedly called for all parties to the conflict to pull back from civilian areas. All parties must respect international humanitarian law, avoid conducting the conflict in or around civilian areas, ensure freedom of movement and guarantee access for humanitarian organizations, including UNRWA.

In Jaramana Camp, Mr. Grandi visited an UNRWA school building which is serving as a temporary collective shelter for Palestinians who left their homes in search of safety.  He heard detailed accounts of their suffering and sense of dislocation.

The young refugees in the camp briefed the Commissioner-General on their feelings of despair, lack of security and stress. They called on UNRWA to establish a job-creation programme for the youth in the camp and introduce psycho-social support for the traumatized children. Speaking to the refugees, Grandi said: “UNRWA will continue to provide emergency assistance to the displaced refugees to alleviate their suffering.”

Speaking to UNRWA staff, Mr. Grandi expressed his thanks and appreciation for their commitment and hard work in the face of personal displacement. “Keep up the good work and maintain your strength to be able to continue to provide assistance to those in greatest need.” Grandi said.


Background information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency‘s General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 66.9 million.

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