July 24, 2012 - 12:00am

The United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees has expressed grave concern over the implications of the ongoing Syria crisis for the 500,000 Palestinian refugees in the country, a UN spokesman told reporters here on Monday.

"The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) views with increasingly grave concern the situation in Syria, particularly as regards the implications for the stability and protection of 500,000 Palestinian refugees across the country," said Eduardo del Buey, deputy spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at a daily news briefing.

UNRWA, established in 1949, is a UN agency that provides assistance, protection and advocacy for some 5 million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, including Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory. It is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN member states.

The agency is also concerned about the safety of its staff, the security of its facilities, and humanitarian access to affected refugees, said del Buey.

He noted that the current situation in the Damascus neighborhood of Yarmouk and in rural Damascus, home to both Syrian and Palestinian communities, is especially worrying UNRWA.

"UNRWA calls on all parties to take steps to ensure the protection of Palestinian refugees in the situation of armed conflict in Syria," the spokesman added.


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