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Syria refugee camps neutral in conflict, PLO official says

Feb. 13, 2013 2:44 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 14, 2013 4:32 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian refugee camps in Syria have always refused to shelter armed groups and are neutral in the internal conflict, the chairman of the PLO's Refugee Affairs Department said Wednesday.

Zakaria al-Agha, who is heading a high-level PLO delegation currently in Syria, made the comments during a meeting with the Syrian minister of information in Damascus.

PLO and Syrian officials discussed the situation of Palestinians caught up in the internal conflict and proposed measures to protect refugees, such as increased security at the entrances and exits of camps.

Al-Agha stressed that Palestinian camps were neutral in the conflict and must not interfere in internal Syrian affairs.

The Syrian government supports the return of displaced Palestinians to camps in the country, al-Agha said, adding that he hopes the conflict in Syria ends soon.

The PLO delegation arrived in Syria on Sunday, and has been meeting with Syrian officials, faction representatives in the Palestinian camps and officials from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Al-Agha said the PLO wants to help improve Palestinian-Syrian relations, and find a way to keep Palestinians out of the conflict.

In November, the PLO said that around 600 Palestinians had been killed in the Syrian conflict.

Syria hosts half a million Palestinian refugees, descendants of those admitted after the creation of Israel in 1948.
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