Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl is undertaking an urgent mission to Syria today, 11 April 2015, in coordination with the Office of the UN Secretary-General.
The visit is prompted by UNRWA’s deepening concerns for the safety and protection of some 18,000 Palestinian and Syrian civilians, including 3,500 children, as Yarmouk remains under the control of armed groups, and as civilian lives continue to be threatened by the effects of the armed conflict in the area.
The objectives of the Commissioner-General’s visit are:
a. to obtain a closer view of the evolving situation in Yarmouk and to learn from the experiences of individuals affected by the crisis;
b. to consult with the Government of Syria on its perspectives, and to exchange views on peaceful approaches to addressing the humanitarian consequences of the situation in Yarmouk;
c. to consult with the Deputy UN Special Envoy on approaches to non-state actors in order to secure humanitarian access to civilians.
d. to consult with the Deputy Special Envoy and other UN colleagues on the UN’s role with particular reference to feasible humanitarian action to support civilians in Yarmouk under all circumstances
e. to recognize and give encouragement to UNRWA staff and colleagues from other UN Agencies in Syria.
To achieve these objectives, the Commissioner-General will meet with relevant senior Syrian officials, UN colleagues and UNRWA staff. He will also visit the displaced people presently accommodated in a government school building in Tadamoun.
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$ 100 million.
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