UNRWA Commissioner-General: Recent Visit to Syria helpful, agency suffers shortage of Syria response plan

Damascus, SANA – Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Pierre Krahenbuhl affirmed on Friday that his recent visit to Syria will contribute to drawing the attention of the world to the situation of the Palestinian refugees during the current difficult circumstances in Syria, noting that the agency lacks the necessary funds for its work.

In a press conference at the UNRWA Headquarters in Damascus, Krahenbuhl said he noticed the Syrian government’s respect for and high interest in the issue of the Palestinian refugees.

He noted that his visit, which lasted 5 days, focused on the situation of the Palestinian refugees in Aleppo, where many of them were displaced many times and lost their homes, jobs and livelihood means, pointing out that this visit will help in raising awareness and will contribute to drawing the attention of the world to not forget the issue of the Palestinian refugees under the current difficult circumstances in Syria.

Speaking about if there are efforts to help displaced Palestinians in Syria return to their camps which have been restored form the hands of armed terrorist organizations, Krahenbuhl said the UNRWA is discussing currently the return of refugees to Sbeineh and areas around Yelda, referring the recent positive experience where refugees returned to their homes in al-Husseiniyeh near Damascus.

He said that there are 25000 Palestinian refugees in Aleppo, 9000 of them are inside the city of Aleppo, while around 16000 of them are in al-Nairab Camp, adding that the refugees who were displaced from Ayn al-Tal Camp in 2013 are currently residing in temporary residing centers provided by the Syrian government, while others reside in al-Nairab Camp and other makeshift centers affiliated to the UNRWA.

He pointed out that the number of Palestinian refugees in Syria before 2011 was about 560000 refugees registered with UNRWA, and that around 110000 and 120000 had left Syria, including about 31000 to Lebanon and 17000 to Jordan and the rest of them are distributed among Turkey, Egypt and Europe and there are still about 440000 refugees in Syria and 65% of those are displaced, many of whom have been displaced more than once.

He noted that the Syrian government has provided the buildings of 55 schools to enable the UNRWA to provide its educational services, adding that the number of students at the UNRWA schools reached 45000 students, after it decreased to 20000 in 2012, while in 2011 the number of students at the UNRWA schools was 66000 students.

He also praised the efforts of the UNRWA staff working in Syria, which is continuing to work despite the difficulties and the loss of 20 of its members during performing their duties, adding that the UNRWA is under-funded as it received only 55% of the support that is supposed to be provided within the humanitarian response plan for Syria.

M.al-Frieh/H. Said

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