UNRWA Calls for Restraint After Armed Clashes Erupted in South Lebanon Refugee Camp

BEIRUT, August 26, 2015 (WAFA) – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Wednesday called on all sides engaging in the armed clashes in South Lebanon’s Ain el-Helweh refugee camp to practice restraint in order to prevent the situation from deteriorating any further.

UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness said heavy fighting has been reported in the vicinity of a number of UNRWA installations, including schools and health clinics. The same reports showed residents have begun evacuating the refugee seeking a safe shelter in other areas, such as Saida Municipality and the Mieh Mieh refugee camp besides other locations.

Even though a ceasefire was reached and remains in effect until this day, the situation is volatile, reported UNRWA. According to the Lebanese National News Agency’s initial reports two people were wounded in the clashes while a house was damaged. One resident affiliated with Fatah was killed during the clashes as well. The News Agency said the Lebanese army cut off all roads leading to the camp.

With the possibility of some 3,000 people displaced, the UN agency has been unable to confirm fatality or casualty figures – but called for the prevention of further deterioration.

At the moment, UNRWA has no means of accessing the refugee camp or transporting in and around. The international body’s ability to provide basic services is constricted, the statement revealed.

“We are deeply concerned over reports that civilians are endangered and that our installations have been directly affected by the fighting,” said Gunness.

“UNRWA condemns any armed group that fails to respect its obligations under international law to protect civilians and to respect the inviolability of United Nations premises.”

He said UNRWA calls on all sides to respect the neutrality of the UN and its installations and avoid engaging in violent actions in residential areas and to allow UNRWA to resume its services.

UNRWA is currently mobilizing its humanitarian response and coordinating with partners to provide assistance to the displaced people, including food, medical assistance and shelter.

“UNRWA will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves and provide assistance.” concluded Gunness.