By UNRWA – Damascus
It has come to the attention of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) that late on 1 March 2013, two Palestinian men were hanged in public on Palestine Street in Yarmouk, a suburb in the south of Damascus city. Prior to the Syria conflict, Yarmouk and its neighboring areas were home to over 150,000 Palestine refugees living alongside approximately one million Syrians.
In December 2012, intense fighting triggered large scale displacement of Palestinians and Syrians living in Yarmouk. Since then, armed opposition groups have maintained a presence in residential areas, with government forces positioned at the northern entrance of Yarmouk.
UNRWA is shocked and distressed by these killings and the manner in which they were carried out. International humanitarian law applies to all parties to the conflict in Syria and extra-judicial killings are in violation of that law. UNRWA particularly deplores the increased levels of fear and trauma these deaths will generate among Palestine refugees across Syria.
UNRWA appeals to all armed groups, including armed opposition groups, to respect the neutrality of Yarmouk and other Palestine refugee camps across Syria, to refrain from maintaining a presence in these camps, and to desist from conducting armed conflict in residential areas.
UNRWA recalls assurances from the Government of Syria to respect the neutrality of Palestine refugee camps. UNRWA calls on the Government of Syria to fulfill these assurances and to avoid conducting armed conflict in residential areas, including in Palestine refugee camps.
UNRWA urgently appeals to all sides of the conflict to abide by their obligations under international law and to seek through dialogue and negotiations a peaceful resolution of the Syria conflict.
(UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.)
(UNRWA – unrwa.org)