0857 GMT August 21, 2019
The spokesperson for the UN agency tasked with providing aid for Palestinians, Christopher Gunness, made the remarks in a statement issued on Friday after it was revealed that nine Palestinians were among as many as 50 migrants who drowned in a boat-wreckage incident off the Italian coast near the island of Sicily early in March.
"The fact that this group reportedly consisted of Palestine refugees from Syria, as well as from Gaza and Lebanon, is a clear and tragic sign that Palestine refugees are finding life in Syria and beyond increasingly untenable," Gunness said in the statement.
"These tragedies... stem not only from armed conflict, occupation and a lack of protection of human rights, but more fundamentally from the failure to resolve the Palestine refugee problem," he said.
Palestinians are facing the Israeli occupation and atrocities in the occupied territories. The Palestinian refugees are also encountering a deadly crisis in Syria and severe living conditions in neighboring countries such as Lebanon.
"At a time of rising extremism in the Middle East region, the failure of the international community to resolve the Palestinian issue takes on an added significance," Gunness further noted.
Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli siege since 2007. The blockade, which has cut off the territory from the outside world, has led to an economic and humanitarian crisis in the densely-populated enclave.
Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds and the Gaza Strip, and are demanding that Israel withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.
According to the information on the website of UNRWA on March 21, there are as many as 526,744 registered Palestine refugees in nine camps in Syria. The data also shows that 1,258,559 registered Palestine refugees are living in eight camps in the besieged Gaza Strip and there are 762,288 registered Palestine refugees in 19 camps in the occupied West Bank. It also shows that as many as 449,957 registered Palestine refugees are residing in 12 camps in Lebanon and a total number of 2,097,338 registered Palestine refugees in ten camps in Jordan.