Syria + 1 more

UNRWA Strongly Condemns Killing of Refugee Children in Syria

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East Jerusalem

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) strongly condemns the parties responsible for the recent conflict-related deaths of three Palestine refugee children in Syria. These killings tragically illustrate the callous disregard of the laws of war which is resulting in the deaths of so many Syrian and Palestinian children.

On 18 April, an eleven year old Qusay Shuraieh, sustained serious head injuries when a vehicle-borne explosive device detonated near Bilal Al-Habas mosque in Homs. He fell into a coma from which he never recovered, and passed away on 22 April in Bisan Hospital in Homs camp. His family had found refuge in Homs camp after being displaced, initially from Ein Al Tal Palestine refugee camp in April 2013, and subsequently from Aleppo in February this year. Qusay’s twelve-year old brother was also seriously injured in the same explosion, along with seven other Palestine refugee children between the ages of six and fourteen.

In Dara’a city, on 22 April, Malek Hasan Turani, also eleven years of age, was caught in an explosion as he walked home from school with friends and family. He was killed instantly when he was struck in the head by shrapnel from the explosion.

On 10 March, seven year old Nureiddin Majed Al Khalily was gravely injured when what appeared to be a stray bullet struck the back of his head as he walked home from an UNRWA school in Homs Palestine refugee camp, accompanied by his nine-year old brother. He instantly fell unconscious and remained so until his death in the early hours of 15 March at Al Zaiem Hospital, Homs. Noureddin’s family are long-time residents of Homs camp.

UNRWA’s thoughts are with the families of Noureddin, Qusay and Malek during this sorrowful time of bereavement.

The tragic deaths of Noureddin, Qusay and Malek epitomize the reckless disregard for human life that defines the armed conflict in Syria. Their deaths resulted from the indiscriminate use of extremely lethal weapons and explosive devices in civilian areas, in violation of international humanitarian law and the obligation to protect civilians.

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 conflict in civilian areas. These and other legal obligations were underscored in UN Security Council resolution 2139 of 22 February 2014. UNRWA calls again on the parties to avoid recourse to violence and armed conflict and to seek a resolution of the Syria conflict through dialogue and political negotiations.

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$ 68 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724