UNRWA has called for a cessation of fighting in the Ain el-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon after the fighting left 13 killed and dozens injured.
“The situation remains very volatile … Thousands were forced to flee their homes that have been damaged or destroyed,” UNRWA said in a statement.
“An UNRWA school complex inside the camp, providing education to 3,200 children (outside summer months), was used for the fighting. The nearby city of Saida (Sidon), the third largest in Lebanon, had shut down, as shelling and artillery fire reached its commercial and residential areas,” it added.
“UNRWA, with partners, are currently hosting 600 persons displaced from the camp in two of its schools in Mieh Mieh refugee camp and Saida city and is providing fuel to a hospital operating inside Ain el-Helweh camp. We have not been able to enter the camp and deliver much needed assistance. A total of 360 UNRWA staff live in the camp. While some were trapped and one was injured, others have fled, with some continuing to work, responding to needs in the camp,” it said.
Lamenting that the refugees of Ain el-Helweh are “reliving traumas and shocks,” UNRWA noted that many have been displaced multiple times in the past decades.
UNRWA accordingly called for “an immediate cessation of fighting in the camp in order for civilians to get respite and for the Agency to be able to provide assistance and conduct needs assessments.”
It also called for the protection of all UNRWA schools and other facilities at all times, including during the fighting.