Yarmouk camp, once home to 160,000 Palestine refugees, suffered devastating destruction because of intense fighting in Syria. (File photo)
Landmines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are particularly unpredictable and difficult to detect, continue to put millions of people, including Palestine refugees, at risk, warned the UN Agency for Palestine refugees.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a tweet that some groups are at higher risk from explosive ordnance due to age, gender, social roles and activity patterns: children who will pick up dangerous items, farm workers who dig up the land, population groups on the move like IDPs, who may enter areas without knowledge of local threats.
In Syria, approximately 1 in 2 people are at risk from explosive contamination and 1/3 of the communities are potentially contaminated. Contamination severely impacts lives, livelihoods and amplifies the social and economic crisis aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
People displaced or returning home are at high risk as they have limited information on safety issues in the areas they are going to.
This threat is particularly high for Palestine refugees in Syria, especially in newly-accessible or difficult-to-reach areas. These include areas that Palestine refugees have recently returned to areas such as Yarmouk, Ein el Tal and Dera'a camp, added UNRWA.
Children on their way to and from school are highly exposed to the dangers of explosive ordnance. Tragically, just last month, a 10-year-old Palestine refugee boy in Syria was severely injured by a mine explosion and lost one of his legs.
In an effort to prevent this type of tragedy, UNRWA carries out risk education, holding awareness-raising sessions in schools and communities and distributing flyers.
UNRWA added that Palestine refugees living in Syria are not the only Palestine refugees at risk from unexploded ordnance. In the Gaza Strip, unexploded ordnance from the 2014 conflict continue to pose a direct threat, including to UNRWA students.