UN official on ‘urgent’ mission to besieged Yarmouk refugee camp

A mother and child in Yarmouk, Syria. Photo: UNRWA/Taghrid Mohammad

11 April 2015 – The United Nations agency concerned with the well-being of Palestinian refugees is undertaking an urgent mission to Syria today, prompted by deepening concerns for the safety and protection of thousands Palestinian and Syrian civilians at Yarmouk refugee camp overrun in recent days by militants.

Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), is visiting Yarmouk to get a sense of the situation in the camp, hear from refugees affected by the crisis, and consult with leaders on how to get aid to people in need.

"Once again, I am deeply moved by the dignity of Palestine refugees in the face of adversity. More than ever UNRWA will stand by [them] in this most critical time," he said as he met with refugees.

Since 1 April, Yarmouk has been the scene of intense fighting between a number of armed groups, reportedly including elements of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), rendering it virtually impossible for civilians to leave.

Among Yarmouk's 18,000 besieged residents are also 3,500 children, who have been reliant on UNRWA's intermittent distributions of food and other assistance for over a year. In some areas, interruptions of humanitarian operations have left thousands of people without aid for months.

During his visit, Mr. Krähenbühl will consult with the Syrian Government and discuss a peaceful solution to addressing the humanitarian consequences of the situation in the camp. He will also consult several senior UN officials on ways to get humanitarian aid to civilians.

The Commissioner-General will also visit displaced people presently accommodated in a government school building in Tadamoun.


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