The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) strongly condemns the parties responsible for two explosions in Dera’a Palestine Refugee Camp on 15 July, which resulted in the deaths of nine Palestine refugees and three Syrians. Of the Palestine refugees, six women and three men were killed. UNRWA is deeply saddened by the deaths of both Palestine refugees and Syrians, and offers its condolences to the grieving families.
Dera’a Palestine Refugee Camp is located on the southern periphery of Dera’a City in southern Syria. Though the majority of camp residents have left to seek safety elsewhere, in the months prior to this incident, a few Palestine refugee families were trickling back to their homes. The explosions that caused the twelve fatalities also destroyed the homes of four families.
The recurrence of deadly violence against Palestinian and Syrian civilians must end. In the strongest possible terms, UNRWA reiterates its demand that all parties to the Syria conflict comply with their obligations under international law and desist from conducting armed engagements in civilian areas. All parties are responsible for ensuring respect for and compliance with norms that protect Palestinian and Syrian civilians from the effects of armed conflict. UNRWA repeats its appeal to the parties to seek a resolution of the Syria conflict through dialogue and political negotiations.
As the armed conflict continues to rage in and around Dera’a, this is only the latest of a sequence of grave incidents in which Palestinian civilians have been killed there. On 22 May, 6 Palestine refugees died and 30 injured in Dera’a City when the tent in which they were attending a public event was struck by a mortar explosion. In February, five Palestine refugee school children and an UNRWA staff member were killed by explosions in Muzeirib, 13km north-west of Dera’a.
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$ 69 million.