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UNRWA suspends services in Lebanese camp following deadly violence

The UN agency said it had halted assistance in the Ain al-Hilweh camp after reports of armed fighters in some of its schools following clashes.
A bullet-ridden mural at the Ain el-Helweh camp, in Lebanon's southern coastal city of Sidon, following the latest flare-up between Fatah and Islamist forces in the camp for Palestinian refugees,on August 4, 2023.

BEIRUT — The United Nations suspended its services in a violence-ridden Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon on Friday due to the presence of armed militia members on some of its premises.

“The agency does not tolerate actions that breach the inviolability and neutrality of its installations,” the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said in a press release, calling on all armed men “to immediately vacate its facilities, to ensure unimpeded delivery of much needed assistance to Palestine refugees.”

Heavy clashes erupted July 30 in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, in the city of Sidon, after the Fatah faction accused rival Islamist militants of assassinating one of its military officials. According to UNRWA, the three days of fighting left at least 13 people dead, dozens injured and millions of dollars in damage.

Dorothy Klaus, UNRWA director in Lebanon, tweeted on Thursday that her agency had received “alarming reports” that four of its schools were occupied by armed men in violation of humanitarian principles. She added that several UN facilities had reportedly been damaged in the fighting.

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