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PLO presents plan to end violence in Syria refugee camps

July 24, 2013 3:01 P.M. (Updated: July 26, 2013 6:13 P.M.)
DAMASCUS (Ma'an) -- A PLO delegation on Wednesday presented an initiative to the Syrian government to disarm and pacify Palestinian refugee camps in the country.

Zakaria al-Agha, Chairman of the PLO's Refugee Affairs Department, said that the initiative called for an end to all fighting in the camps, freedom of movement, and the rebuilding of damaged infrastructure as a result of fighting.

The plan also called for the release of prisoners being held without charge by the Syrian government.

"We have contacted all parties involved in order to implement this initiative. It was welcomed and encouraged by Syrian officials and the ideas and terms of the initiative will be implemented in the coming days," al-Agha said.

The PLO delegation met with Syrian deputy minister of foreign affairs Faisal al-Miqdad to discuss the protection and pacification of Palestinian camps.

Armed groups have infiltrated refugee camps across the country, displacing tens of thousands of Palestinians, al-Agha said. The PLO's primary objective is to return all displaced persons to their homes and provide them with adequate living conditions.

In June, UNRWA's commissioner general described Palestinian refugee camps in Syria as "theaters of war."

"Killings, kidnappings, poverty, destruction and fear have become part of daily life," Filippo Grandi said.

More than half of the 530,000 Palestinian refugees registered in Syria have been displaced and 15 percent have fled abroad, including 60,000 to neighboring Lebanon and over 7,000 to Jordan.

Palestinian officials insist that refugees in Syria are not involved in the deadly war rocking the country, citing security concerns for the vulnerable refugee population if they are perceived to take sides.

But Syria's uprising has split Palestinian loyalties, with many ordinary Palestinians sympathetic to the uprising by their fellow Sunnis, and others recalling the Syrian government's long-support for Palestinians.

In March, the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria said that over 1,377 Palestinians had been killed in the ongoing Syria conflict, with that number thought to have increased significantly since then.
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