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UNRWA: 'Don't forget over half a million Palestinians from Syria'

Jan. 23, 2017 11:04 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 24, 2017 12:53 P.M.)
Palestinian refugees, who fled the violence in Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp, take part in a demonstration on April 10, 2015 in Ain Al-Helweh refugee camp in Lebanon. (AFP/Mahmoud Zayyat/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Pierre Krahenbuhl is set to attend an international conference in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday, where he will tell the attendees that “the world should not forget” some 560,000 Palestinian refugees living in Syria whose lives “have been impacted by the deepening conflict.”

According to statement from UNRWA, the conference has been called to launch the “Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP)” in response to the crisis in Syria, when Krahenbuhl will and explain to delegates that a staggering 430,000 Palestine refugees -- 95 per cent Palestinian refugees remaining in Syria -- are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.

According to UNRWA, overall, 280,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria have been internally displaced, while around 43,000 have been trapped in hard-to-reach or besieged areas.

Additionally, the UN agency reported that there were more than 30,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria who have fled to Lebanon and nearly 17,000 who have fled to Jordan, “where they face a marginalized and precarious existence.”

The statement went on to say that Krahenbuhl will stress that “while the physical devastation of the conflict is visible for all to see, the human consequences, the accumulated fear and suffering, are at times more difficult to map out. In Syria, we are dealing with yet another generation of Palestinians enduring the trauma of displacement and loss in its multiple forms.”

UNRWA recently launched an international appeal for $411 million to provide humanitarian assistance as well as “protection and basic services” for Palestinians caught up in the crisis in Syria.

The Syrian conflict began in the form of peaceful protests in March 2011 and quickly morphed into a civil war that has so far left more than 400,000 people dead and millions displaced according to UN estimates.

Over half a million Palestinians lived across nine refugee camps in Syria prior to the war, the descendants of some of the 750,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes during the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Syria's civil war has seen many of these families displaced a second time, with up to 280,000 displaced inside Syria, a further 110,000 displaced to neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and increasingly, to Europe.

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