Palestinians living in Damascus wait outside a bank to collect financial aid donated by the United Nations' Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA in the Syrian capital Damascus, on September 17, 2013
Palestinians living in Damascus wait outside a bank to collect financial aid donated by the United Nations' Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA in the Syrian capital Damascus, on September 17, 2013 © Anwar Amro - AFP/File
Palestinians living in Damascus wait outside a bank to collect financial aid donated by the United Nations' Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA in the Syrian capital Damascus, on September 17, 2013
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AFP
Last updated: October 23, 2013

UN: Palestinian refugees in Syria face extreme vulnerability

Top UN official Jeffrey Feltman emphasized Tuesday the "extreme vulnerability" of Palestinian refugees in Syria as fighting there escalates.

Speaking at the Security Council, the under-secretary for political affairs also called on member nations to give more generously to fund the UN Relief and Works Agency or UNRWA.

He recalled the sinking off Egypt of a boat filled with Palestinian refugees and "an increase in the death toll of Palestinian refugees in Syria from the escalation of fighting" in Daraa, Yarmuk and the Damascus region

These developments underlined "the urgent need to address the extreme vulnerability of Palestinian refugees in the current conflict," Feltman said.

According to the United Nations, the Palestinian refugee camp at Daraa, near the Jordanian border, was pounded by warplanes and tanks on October 12 amid fierce battles between rebels and regime loyalists.

Other camps, including the Yarmouk camp near Damascas, which was home to 150,000 people before the war began, have also suffered extensive damage during the conflict that has ravaged the country for two and a half years.

Violent battles for control of the camp have several times pitted government forces against the rebels.

Nearly 500,000 Palestinians are registered as refugees in Syria. Their ancestors fled their homes when the state of Israel was created in 1948, and in successive conflicts afterwards.

Feltman also emphasized that the budget of the UNRWA is running "a deficit of $48 million" which "threatens the provision of essential services to more than five million Palestinian refugees."

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