un_flagThe United Nations today strongly condemned attacks on Palestinian children in Syria and renewed its call on all parties to the conflict in the Middle Eastern country to cease violence in residential areas to prevent harming refugees and civilians.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) expressed concern after reports of Palestinian children being killed or injured by explosions near their schools.

On Monday, Basem al-Hindi, a 14-year-old Palestinian refugee sustained serious wounds to his head when a suspected mortar round exploded on a public road in Damascus, the capital. A few hours later, Basem died of his wounds, UNRWA stated in a news release.

The incident occurred just a few metres from UNRWA’s Tantouri School, where Basem was a student. Tantouri is one of 30 schools managed by the Agency and currently functioning in the wider area of Rif Damascus.

According to UNRWA, another student was injured by the same explosion while a Syrian man and his two daughters were killed. The explosion reportedly targeted a checkpoint recently set up close to the school.

“UNRWA is saddened by this tragic and violent end to the life of a Palestine refugee child and three members of a Syrian family,” said the Agency. “The thoughts of UNRWA and its staff are with the families of all those involved, both Palestinian and Syrian.”

UNRWA underlined that all sides must comply with their international legal obligations to respect human life and protect refugees and other civilians in armed conflict, and added that “no military or political objective could justify such blatant disregard for the safety of children or the sanctity of human life.”

Up to 70,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011. In addition, more than 900,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries, 2 million have been internally displaced and over 4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

“UNRWA, once more and with a renewed sense of urgency, reiterates its previous calls to all concerned parties to resolve the conflict in Syria through dialogue and negotiations,” the Agency said.