Israeli demolitions displace record number of Palestinian children, UN agency says

A street and living areas of Qalandia refugee camp in the West Bank

9 June 2011 – The United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees reported today that Israeli home demolitions displaced 67 Palestinian children in May, a monthly record for the year.

Figures released by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) show that 304 adults and children have been displaced or affected by demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year.

The previous monthly record for the number of children displaced was 66 in March.

“The figure for displaced and affected includes people who were not necessarily displaced by demolitions, but who were affected because some vital facility, like a water system, was destroyed,” said Chris Gunness, a spokesperson for UNRWA.

Under the Israeli zoning policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, Palestinians are allowed to build in 13 per cent of occupied East Jerusalem and 1 per cent of Area C, the Israeli controlled territory in the West Bank, which is already heavily built up.

“Palestinians are refused permits and are forced to build illegally. They then suffer the humiliation either of having the Israeli authorities destroy their homes, or are forced to destroy their homes themselves and foot the bill,” said Mr. Gunness.

“Children often watch with their parents as their homes are demolished. A house is a place of safety and comfort for most children around the world. A home demolished is a future destroyed.”

“Under international law, Israel must ensure that persons under its jurisdiction enjoy the fulfilment of their human rights, including the right to housing, health, education, and water. UNRWA calls on Israel to respect its legal obligations,” Mr. Gunness said.

UNRWA also announced a new website designed to monitor donations.

UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for some 4.8 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a solution to their plight. The agency’s services encompass education, health care, social services,-net, camp infrastructure and improvement, community support, microfinance and emergency response, including in times of armed conflict.


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