Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Bethlehem, 11 Dhulqa’dah 1436/26 August 2015 (MINA) – Thousands of Palestinians have been displaced by violent clashes in Lebanon’s largest refugee camp near southern Sidon, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said.

UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness said that armed clashes in the Ain al-Helweh camp have had a “serious impact on the Palestine refugee community,” Ma’an News Agency quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

Three people were killed in clashes overnight and into Tuesday morning infighting between the Jund al-Sham Islamist group and members of Fatah movement.

Despitereports of aceasefire, as many as 3,000 Palestinians may have been displaced, Gunness said, with UNRWA having limited access and movement in and around the refugee camp.

“We are deeply concerned over reports that civilians are endangered and that our installations have been directly affected by the fighting,” he said.

“UNRWA condemns any armed group that fails to respect its obligations under international law to protect civilians and to respect the inviolability of United Nations premises.”

UNRWA has mobilized a humanitarian response with its partners to provide food, medical assistance, and shelter and will continue to monitor the situation, Gunness added.

Tensions have been running high for months between Palestinian factions and Islamists inside Ain al-Helweh, an impoverished and overcrowded camp.

More than 54,000 registered Palestinian refugees live in the camp, who have been joined in recent years by thousands of Palestinians fleeing the fighting in Syria.

More than 450,000 Palestinians are registered in Lebanon with UNRWA. Most live in squalid conditions in 12 official refugee camps and face a variety of legal restrictions, including on their employment.(T/P008/R04)


Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)

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