Statement by Sami Mshasha, UNRWA Spokesperson
UNRWA strongly condemns the ongoing armed violence that erupted in the Ein El-Hilweh Palestine Refugee camp in Lebanon, on 23 February 2017.
Recurrent armed violence continues to impact the civilian population in the Camp, including children.
There are reports of injuries to civilians and damage to shelters as a result of the weekend’s clashes. An UNRWA installation is reported as sustaining minor damage and the unauthorized entry of armed actors into one UNRWA school was reported.
Due to the violent clashes that erupted in Ein El-Hilweh and taking into consideration security considerations, all UNRWA services were suspended yesterday and today. On Friday, 24 February, two UNRWA facilities for health and relief services in the Upper Street of Ein El-Hilweh were also closed due to clashes.
UNRWA will continue to assess the security situation to ensure that services can be resumed as soon as possible considering the need to ensure the safety and security of the Agency’s personnel and beneficiaries.
As a humanitarian organization we are significantly concerned about the impact that ongoing armed violence in Ein El-Hilweh has on beneficiaries and on safe access to UNRWA services, including schools and vital health services.
UNRWA again calls on all those involved to ensure Palestine refugees are protected against harm in accordance with applicable standards under international law.
UNRWA also continues to urge all armed actors to respect the inviolability and neutrality of UNRWA premises in accordance with international law and to take all measures necessary to ensure the safety of civilians, including UNRWA staff.
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 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank 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.