Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness

Jerusalem, February 21, 2018: UNRWA condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing yesterday in a mortar attack of two Palestine refugee children near the Palestine refugee camp of Jaramana, 8 kilometers from Damascus. A fourteen and fourteen and a half year old, both male UNRWA students were killed as they walked home after school. Both children were previously displaced from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. Two more children aged 14 and 15 were injured in the attack. Our hearts go out to their families and friends in communities that have been so cruelly affected by conflict.

There has been an increase in fighting and mortar incidents in Damascus over the past several days, with reports that 50 mortars landed in Damascus yesterday alone. Mortar attacks reaching Jaramana are the result of ongoing hostilities around East Ghouta that have intensified in recent weeks, now deeply affecting civilians in that area and beyond, among them over 700 Palestine refugee families.

As a result of the attacks and due to the deterioration on the security situation, UNRWA has been forced to suspend schools and food distributions in several areas throughout Damascus and surrounding areas. Over 27,000 children will be directly impacted by the closure of the schools and many more will suffer ongoing trauma as a result of the violence. 

We remain committed to delivering a quality education to those 47,000 students across Syria who, despite the war, still manage to access an UNRWA education.

UNRWA repeats its profound concern regarding the impact of the Syria conflict on children, including by impeding their right to education. Children are and must be protected under International Law.