UNRWA Condemns Mass displacement of Palestine Refugees in Syria

JERUSALEM, April 30, 2013 (WAFA) – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) condemned in a statement issued Tuesday the mass displacement of Palestine refugees in war-torn Syria.

“Palestine refugees in Syria are being killed, injured and displaced in greater numbers than ever before, as the armed conflict continues to overwhelm refugee camps across the country,” said the statement, estimating that approximately 235,000 Palestine refugees have been displaced inside Syria.

It said it was particularly concerned about news that some 6,000 Palestinians have been displaced on Friday from Ein El Tal refugee camp some 12 kilometers from Aleppo in northern Syria.

UNRWA said armed opposition groups occupied Ein El Tal camp in the early morning hours of Friday, declared it a “military zone” and exchanged gunfire with forces loyal to the government who were inside the camp.

Mortars and small arms were reportedly used, damaging and destroying refugee homes and contributing to dozens of fatalities and injuries, including among Palestinian civilians.

In the aftermath of the fighting, a number of young Palestine refugee men were reportedly taken away by the armed opposition groups who now remain in Ein El Tal camp, where a situation of high tension prevails.

UNRWA said its staff made arrangements to assist the displaced refugees by providing food and cash assistance as many were still seeking temporary accommodation in Aleppo city.

“UNRWA’s response efforts are continuing amidst reports that significant numbers of the displaced refugees may be trapped without adequate shelter in rural areas around Aleppo where intense armed conflict continues to rage,” said the statement.

“Events in Ein El Tal mirror the tragic experience of other Palestine refugee camps – Dera’a Camp, Yarmouk in Damascus City and Husseiniyeh, Khan Eshieh, Sbeineh, and Seida Zaynab Camps in the wider Damascus area. Ein El Tal is the latest manifestation of a cycle of catastrophic violence in which the conduct of all parties has transformed Palestine refugee camps into theatres of conflict in which heavy weapons are used, resulting in severe suffering for Palestinian civilians,” it said.

UNRWA condemned the conduct of armed conflict in civilian areas and the failure of all parties to safeguard the safety and lives of Syrian and Palestinian civilians, stressing that international humanitarian law obliges all parties to protect civilians.

It appealed to all sides to halt the human suffering caused by the conflict in Syria, and to resolve their differences through dialogue and political negotiations.

Source: WAFA News