Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness
UNRWA is dismayed by the deaths and injuries in Gaza today of dozens of civilians, including children. The Agency unreservedly condemns the excessive use of force employed against demonstrators, who have the right to peaceful assembly and expression.
The population in the Gaza Strip has been exposed to the consequences of repeated armed conflicts and a stifling blockade over the past decade. Today’s violence and loss of life will add yet another layer of trauma onto an already untenable situation.
UNRWA is specifically alarmed by the impact the latest developments have had on Palestine refugees, who constitute over 70 percent of Gaza’s population. Since 30 March, when what has become known as the “Great March of Return” started, at least 4 UNRWA students have been killed and some 125 injured.
Behind the numbers, there are shattered lives, destinies and limbs. In many cases the injuries sustained are very severe and likely to result in life-long disabilities. UNRWA supports calls for investigations into these grave incidents in accordance with international standards to ensure accountability for violations of international law.
The risk is high to see similar violence occur again in coming days. Collective international mobilization is therefore urgently required to prevent further loss of life and injury. Every additional casualty is a defeat for humanity.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
for more information, please contact:
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724