The United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in the near east (UNRWA) has strongly condemned an outbreak of armed violence which took  place at the Ein El Hilweh Palestinian Refugee camp in Lebanon, today and yesterday, and calls for restraint.

Due to armed violence and increased risks to civilian lives, UNRWA has suspended all its operations in the camp and will continue to do so until further notice.

Violent incidents in Ein el-Hilweh continue to shock and frighten camp residents. They prevent children going to school and patients going to clinics; and they threaten the safety and security of civilians and their ability to access a range of services.

The education and well being of more than 6,000 children attending nine UNRWA schools in the camp have been impacted.  Two health centres, serving the health needs of the Palestine refugee population in the camp, have been forced to close temporarily.

This is the fourth time, in the past month, that UNRWA has been forced to close its services due to security incidents. Closures have occurred on 5, 7, 21 and 22 December.

UNRWA again calls on all involved to respect the rule of law, the sanctity of human life, and to ensure the protection of Palestinian refugees, particularly of children.  

UNRWA also continues to urge all armed actors to respect the inviolability and neutrality of UNRWA premises, in accordance with international law, and to take all measures necessary to ensure the safety of UNRWA staff, students, Palestinian refugees and installations.

 UNRWA has obligated itself to continue monitoring developments and to keep a dialogue with all relevant actors, to advocate for the safety and dignity of Palestine refugees living in Ein el-Hilweh, and to bring an end to the violence.

via Chris Gunness, UNRWA Spokesperson and Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications