Qaanitah Hunter |Cii News, Pic: onislam.net | 09 October 2012
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has said that due to the, “highly complex situation in Syria they can not release precise figures of how many Palestinian refugees were killed in the Syrian conflict”.
Since the conflict began in Syria about 18 months ago, UNRWA has four confirmed cases of staff members being killed. All of them were Palestine refugees.
A senior PLO official, Zakariya al-Agha, said last Thursday that more than 400 Palestinians have been killed since the peaceful protests began leading to a debilitating civil war between the Syrian army and anti-government forces that has left at least 32 000 people dead.
“We do not wish to speculate – on the numbers of Palestine refugees who have been killed or the circumstances of their deaths,” spokesperson Christopher Gunness said.
“UNRWA is profoundly concerned regarding the destructive impact of the Syria conflict on civilians including Palestine refugees, which it strongly deplores.”
There is close to 500 000 Palestinian refugees living in Syria in nine official and three unofficial camps.
“Palestine refugees reside across Syria – in Lattakia in the north east; in Aleppo in the north; in Homs and Hama in central Syria; in Damascus city and in rural Damascus; as well as in Dara’a in the south. The largest concentration of Palestine refugees is in Yarmouk, a suburb of Damascus city, and in rural Damascus,” he said.
Gunness added that although Palestinians were welcomed in Syria since 1948, there are many areas in which the human development for the refugees was falling short prior to the current conflict.
“Given their previous vulnerability, Palestine refugees are severely affected by the socio-economic consequences of the Syria conflict, including the high cost of essential commodities, a shrinking job market, and a decline in living conditions,” Gunness noted.