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U.N. suspends Palestinian refugee camp work due to armed fighters in its facilities

The UNRWA suspended Palestinian refugee camp operations amid the presence of armed fighters at the facility in Ain al-Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon. Photo by Wael Hamzeh/EPA-EFE
The UNRWA suspended Palestinian refugee camp operations amid the presence of armed fighters at the facility in Ain al-Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon. Photo by Wael Hamzeh/EPA-EFE

Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian refugees Friday suspended all its services within the Ain al-Hilweh camp in southern Lebanon over the presence of armed fighters in its facilities.

The UNRWA said it operates schools for 3,200 children and said given repeated violations of its installations by the armed fighters, schools are unlikely to be available at the start of the new school year.

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"The Agency does not tolerate actions that breach the inviolability and neutrality of its installations," it said, repeating a call it made Thursday on all the armed fighters to immediately vacate its facilities in the camp.

On Thursday the agency strongly condemned the occupation of its facilities by the armed groups and said it was a violation of international law.

"UNRWA received alarming reports that armed actors continue to occupy its installations including a school compound in Ain al-Hilweh Palestine refugee camp in the south of Lebanon," UNRWA's Thursday statement said. "UNRWA facilities have reportedly been damaged by the recent fighting in the camp. This is a grave violation of the inviolability of U.N. premises under international law."

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The agency was established by the U.N. in 1949 to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestinian refugees.

It operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

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